Here Come the Warm Jets

Here’s the New York Times‘ brief description of the economic statistics we will be hearing about in the course of this week:

Data to be released include the I.S.M. [Institute for Supply Management] manufacturing index for September and construction spending for August (Monday); A.D.P. [Automatic Data Processing] employment for September, I.S.M. service index for September (Wednesday); weekly jobless claims (Thursday); and unemployment for September and consumer credit for August (Friday).

Friday’s jobs report, of course, is the Big Bertha. There will be one more the Friday before Election Day, but at that point the undecided vote will probably be down to a segment of the electorate that is far more likely to be focused on Honey Boo Boo than economic reports.

Given the dynamics of the general election campaign, you can expect the warm jets of conservative spin over the September jobs report to achieve a level of heat and noise unlike anything that has ever been generated by a BLS publication. If the net new jobs numbers do not meet expectations (which will be set mid-week), we’ll hear renewed howling about double-dip recession and Obama’s Failed Presidency. If the jobs numbers are better than expected, the Right will focus on the unemployment rate. Any economist or “job creator” willing to express disappointment or apprehension will have his or her image displayed on giant screens around the country, with negative quotes endlessly blaring from huge loudspeakers.

Just kidding about that last part, but it’s only an exaggeration. Sure, pro-Obama forces will be spinning madly as well, but for Republicans, this will probably be the last clear opportunity for a news link to the Referendum on Obama’s Stewardship of the Economy meme. You can try to take a break from the news that day to avoid it all, but I suspect the intensity of the Doom and Gloom will be such that you will probably pick up the bad news on your dental fillings. And if Mitt does poorly in the debate on Wednesday and the job numbers are tepid, you’d best hide under the covers with noise-cancelling headphones if you want to get through Friday without hearing the unearthly wail of negativity. Be forewarned.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.