By Jerry Bowyer
Let’s call it Bowyer’s Law: The emphasis that the mainstream media give to unemployment while a Republican is in the White House is directly proportional to the rate of unemployment. In other words, if the unemployment rate is very low, then coverage of the unemployment rate will be very low too — that is, when someone like George W. Bush is in power. At a current rate of 4.9 percent, Bowyer’s Law seems to be holding.
It’s time for the Bush administration to turn this thing around. We are currently within a hair’s breadth of achieving 5 million new jobs since the president’s tax cuts were fully implemented in May 2003. If we hit it this month, that would mean 5 million jobs in 28 months. When the new jobs numbers are reported four weeks from now, maybe it will be time for the administration to crow a little bit.
Perhaps the reason President Bush has had so much trouble selling his admirable Social Security reform plan is that so many people think his economic performance is weak. But perhaps so many people think this way because the press systemically tells them so, and because the president does not systematically rebut the press.
Here are some suggestions to help turn the tide:
First, 5 million jobs in slightly more than two years is a big deal. Say so, Mr. President.
Second, Mr. President, you should defend the Labor Department’s household survey, which goes almost unreported in the media and includes the all-important self-employed. The president has laid out a vision of a “new ownership society” and it’s working — job growth has been much stronger in the start-up and self-employed segment of the economy. The Labor Department’s establishment (or payroll) survey counts the first group badly and doesn’t track the second group at all. In an ownership society the household survey will be a better gauge of employment than the establishment survey. It’s time for the president to reconcile his economic strategy with his communication strategy by focusing on small business ownership and the survey that tracks it.
Is a boom a boom even if nobody hears it? Let’s leave that question to the theoreticians. Meanwhile, it’s time for the White House to make some noise.