Wilson’s statements were misleading

Rep. Joe Wilson recently stated (“Wilson responds to president’s address,” Feb. 14) that we currently have “record unemployment on the rise, and a shrinking national GDP.” This must surely have puzzled many readers.

Every informed person knows that our current unemployment rate of 7.9 percent is not record unemployment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that unemployment touched 10 percent in October of 2009, and that the trend since then has been down, to rates in the nines all though 2010, from the nines to the eights in 2011, and from the eights to the sevens in 2012. Of course, the unemployment rate varies a bit from month to month, and in the past five months it’s been bouncing back and forth between 7.8 and 7.9 percent, including December being 7.8 percent and January being 7.9 percent. But no one looking at recent history could honestly say that unemployment is on the rise.

With regard to his claim that our GDP is shrinking, Wilson is again extremely misleading, at best. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says that U.S. real GDP dropped in the two recession years, 2008 and 2009, and in the last three years, 2010 to 2012, it has grown every year. Could Wilson be basing his claim on only the fourth quarter of 2012, when GDP dropped a hair relative to the previous quarter, a difference so small that even annualized it is a mere one-tenth of one percent? If so, it might be unfair of him to do so, keeping in mind that we don’t blame presidents or political parties for acts of God, and that the unusual drought in the Midwest and the freakish Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast probably both had a negative impact on fourth quarter output. And it might also be rash of him to do so, since we don’t even have the adjusted fourth quarter GDP numbers (which will be reported on Feb. 28).

All discussions of our economic problems and how to address them should begin with an acknowledgment of the facts, and a willingness to be non-rhetorical. Rep. Wilson could start any time.

Greg Weis