If you were a corrupt politician, and you thought that your political fortunes were tied to making certain numbers look better, wouldn’t you try to rig them? No I’m not talking about Argentina; I’m talking about the Obama administration’s effort to bring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to heel:
Over the last year, the administration has refused to fill the two top BLS positions. They have yet to nominate anyone to replace outgoing BLS Commissioner Keith Hall, whose term expires in January, and the number two post previously held by Deputy Commissioner Philip Rones has been vacant since last summer. . . BLS career professional and Associate Commissioner John Galvin has been given limited responsibilities to cover some of the deputy duties on an acting basis, but the White House has indicated it has no interest in promoting Galvin to the post of commissioner.
A retired career economist at the U.S. Department of Labor told PJ Media the administration wants to put its own political allies into the bureau, eschewing promotion from within:
Traditionally, the deputy commissioner position has been filled by promotion from within the ranks of experienced BLS career professionals, and when Rones retired from the deputy job last summer, Hall proposed promoting a highly qualified associate commissioner [John Galvin] to the position. The labor secretary and deputy secretary rebuffed that and made it clear that they wanted someone of their choosing from outside the existing career cadre.
The Senate could get involved by exercising its Senate confirmation process for a new commissioner — but the administration has circumvented the process by not nominating anyone. Nominations usually are announced as early as six months before the expiration of a term, but with a few weeks left before Hall leaves office, it is clear no commissioner will be running the bureau through much of 2012.
This has led to speculation that the White House is trying to circumvent the Senate so as to appoint a deputy whose position does not need Senate confirmation, and who would defer to the White House and to politically aggressive Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Of course, this strategy assumes that Americans can be tricked into believing that the economy is improving, which remains to be seen.