In a heated debate with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch doubled-down on his claim that the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey released Friday, which showed a spike in employment and a drop in the unemployment metric from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, is bogus.
Welch explained his rationale to the MSNBC host:
“We had 600,000 government jobs added in the last two months. We had 873,00 jobs by a household survey — which is a total estimate — from 50,000 phone calls. Of those, 600,000 were temporary workers. Chris, these numbers are all a series of assumptions. Tons of assumptions. And it just seems somewhat coincidental that the month before the election, the numbers go one-tenth of a point below where the president started. Although, I don’t see anything in the economy that says these surges are true.”
When Matthews asked him if he had any evidence to prove his assertion correct, Welch admitted that he did not.
“I have no evidence to prove that, I just raise the question,” he said.
“But you didn’t raise the question,” Matthews shot back.
“Did you talk to any economist or any people in the national income accounting world that understood how these numbers are put together before you accuse these ‘Chicago guys’ of changing the numbers?” the host asked.
Welch then repeated his position that the unemployment numbers were generated based on a “series of wild assumptions.” Matthews then asked if he wanted to take back his accusation that the numbers were intentionally fudged.
“No,” Welch said defiantly. As Matthews grew frustrated with his guests defiance, he accused Welch of irresponsibly alleging wrongdoing by the president of the United States without probable cause. At this, Welch laughed — literally.
“It’s not funny, Jack…You’re talking about the President of the United States playing with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers. This is Nixon stuff. This is what Nixon said back in the old days,” Matthews said.
“Chris, don’t lose it now,” Welch said.
“I’m not losing it. Look at my face. I’m not losing it,” Matthews said.
“Jack, do you want to take back the charge that there was corruption here,” Matthews asked again, getting the same answer.
“You don’t think it’s coincidental that we’ve got the biggest surge since 1983 in the jobs surge? Come on, Chris,” Welch said, refusing to back down. “It’s a six percent improvement in employment in two months…The numbers don’t jibe.”
He continued: “These numbers defy logic. They defy logic. We do not have a 4 to 5 percent booming economy with 873,000 people added. I mean, stop it, Chris. On the face of it, we don’t have this GDP. I love you, but you can’t get there.”
Matthews tried one more time to get Welch to walk his statement back, but it was useless. However, the guest did admit again that he has no “evidence whatsoever” of “corruption.”
Welch said he was just “raising the question for some good analysts to go look at.”