Politicians and Pinocchio

Published on March 3rd, 2012

The Washington Post, no friend to immigration reform patriots, has initiated what it calls a “Pinocchio” system for rating misrepresentations made by during political dialogues. Calling himself the “Fact Checker” and identifying his mission as revealing the “truth behind the rhetoric,” Post columnist Glenn Kessler set out to find out what the real story is behind the Google chat room confrontation a few weeks ago between President Obama and Jennifer Wedel, a semiconductor engineer’s wife. [President Obama’s GooglePlus ‘Hangout’ Claims about Engineering Demand, Washington Post, February 6, 2012]

Read my original blog here.

The details are familiar to all of us. The Fort Worth housewife told Obama that her husband has been unemployed for three years after being fired by Texas Instruments and wondered why, in light of widespread unemployment among American engineers, the federal government continues to issue 65,000 non-immigrant H-1B visas annually.

Obama replied:

“What the industry tells me is that they don’t have enough highly skilled engineers for work in the high-tech domain.”

According to Kessler, Obama only earned a single “Pinocchio” for his duplicity. The Post writes that Obama should have known that:

“In terms of demand for engineering, the economy has taken a toll on that profession just like most others. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unemployment ‘for engineering and architectural occupations’ has risen since 2006, but the overall economy has fared worse.”

But a president who has been touting his jobs’ growth program for months should be on top of the employment data in all fields especially in higher income categories. One “Pinocchio” lets Obama off too easily.

In his column, Kessler said that the industry has “moved abroad” which is one of the complaints made by the Wadel family and others concerned by American job displacement. More important, Kessler also cited economist Jared Bernstein who witnessed Silicon Valley’s heavy lobbying efforts for more H-1B’s when he served as a member of Obama’s economic team.

Said Bernstein:

“They want all the engineers they can get at the lowest price. They say they can’t find enough talent, but what they really mean is that they can’t find enough people at the rate they want to pay.”

Maybe if the Post returned to re-review Obama’s comments, it would come up with four “Pinochhios,” a more accurate evaluation especially in light of the Center for Immigration Studies report titled Is President Obama Right about Engineers? Author Dr. Steven Camatora found that there are nearly 2 million American engineers who are either unemployed or working in a field other than engineering.

Kessler defines four Pinochhios as a “whopper.”

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