Have you ever heard the expression, “Liars figure and figures lie” ?
Case-in-point, President Trump has rejected the assertion from a George Washington University study that claimed Puerto Rico’s official death toll was 2,975 people. Trump claims “NO WAY” asserting that the Democrats manufactured a death toll to make him “look as bad as possible.”
Yep, Trump claims “liars figure” !
OK … a little background.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017 and soon after, the government of Puerto Rico determined that 64 people had died. Unofficial investigations and independent scientific studies later suggested that the death toll was likely much higher. To get a more accurate and rigorous assessment, the Puerto Rican government commissioned an independent study from Milken Institute SPH.
The George Washington Unversity-led team analyzed death certificates and other mortality data, and using a sophisticated mathematical model, the team compared the total number of deaths during that time to the expected number based on historical patterns.
OK … they compared the number of deaths after the hurricane to what would have been expected … in short, they extrapolated a number based on mathematical models.
Harvard did a similar study and determined the number was 4,600 … but the Milken people rejected that saying this difference is based on an analysis that did not accurately account for differences in household size.
OK … let’s give it to Trump … he may be technically correct … we do not know an exact number … two groups did studies and used different models calculating different results.
Hmmm … can’t say “liars figure and figures lie”, but it doesn’t mean that data can be interpreted in many ways.
For example, Milken also did a study that was used by advocates who wanted the “onerous” medical device tax repealed … the projected job losses just terrified Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis that they had to vote to repeal the tax.
Or, maybe we just can’t trust Milken’s numbers when politicians can selectively choose when to accept their findings and when not to … remember “Liars figure and figures lie”.
But like the medical device tax, there might be some instances when … extrapolated numbers project a story line that you like.
For example, President Trump issued a Presidential Message (highlights below with bolding added)
On American Business Women’s Day, we celebrate women across the United States who participate in the workforce, including the millions of ambitious women who have followed their dreams to start and own a business.
Women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country, and they now own more than 40% of all businesses in America—indeed, between 1972 and 2018, the number of women-owned businesses increased 31 times. Our Nation applauds the contributions of more than 12 million women-owned businesses, 4.5 million of which are owned by Latina and African-American women.
In the wake of our thriving economic policies, including the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the elimination of many unnecessary and burdensome regulations, the unemployment rate for women is near a historic low.
Additionally, my budget proposal is the first ever to call for a national paid family leave program for all new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents. I continue to call on Congress to pass such a program to help women succeed in the workforce and provide for their families.
And in sync with that Presidential Message, the campaign account for Second District Congressman Jason Lewis tweeted this message
Almost 12 mil businesses are owned by women and the Tax Cut & Jobs Act has been a great success for them by any measure. Kind of amazing then on American Business Women’s Day that my opponent in #MN02 cares more about govt. budgets than yours & wants to “repeal the whole thing.”
— Jason Lewis (@Jason2CD) September 22, 2018
Clever move by Jason Lewis’ campaign … allow readers to accept a factually presented number “12 million women-owned businesses“ and project it onto the Tax Cut that he voted for.
Conveniently, he fails to provide any documentation for this number … and he also fails to acknowledge Trump’s call for family leave (H.R. 947 “Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act” or the “FAMILY Act” has not been sponsored by Congressman Lewis)
Mindful of “Liars figure and figures lie”, where did the “12 million women-owned businesses“ come from?
How about it was extrapolated … as done on this study which puts the number at 12,280,248.
This report is based on data from the United States Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (SBO), which is conducted every five years in years ending in two and seven. Data from the 2007 and 2012 Census surveys were collated, analyzed and extrapolated
forward to 2018
Specifically, the report compared growth in GDP from 2007 to 2012 with data from 2012 to Q4 2017. Relative annual growth rates were then used to estimate the growth in the number of firms over the 2012 to 2018 period thus adjusting a straight-line extrapolation to account for relative economic growth between the two time periods.
Hmmm … so this is 2012 data extrapolated to the fourth quarter of 2017.
What does the GOP Tax Cut have to do with extrapolated job growth in 2017 — when it was not enacted until December 2017 ?
Further, since this includes only one year of the Trump Administration, how much does the Obama Administration deserve credit ?
Yep, clever … very clever !
But for discussion sake, let’s ignore the GOP Tax Cut and FAMILY Act, and instead focus on the jobs.
As of January 2017, women-owned businesses in the United States employed 8,985,200 people versus 2018 employment number of 9,184,488 … an increase of less than 200,000.
Yes, there are more women owned businesses than number of workers employed at those businesses.
Let’s consider some of the findings in the report :
— Women start their own businesses because existing workforce policies do not accommodate their caregiving responsibilities or their desire to have more control over when and where they work.
— A much greater gender and racial pay gap led women to start businesses at a higher rate out of necessity and the need to survive, rather than a desire to seize a market opportunity.
— A necessity entrepreneur is an individual who cannot find quality employment or is unemployed and whose only viable employment option is to start a business. These businesses tend to be smaller than those started by opportunity entrepreneurs, which target a market opportunity.
— Necessity entrepreneurs typically return to the workforce when the economy improves.
— Nearly half of women business owners are between the ages of 45 and 65 (48%) and two thirds (67%) are 45 or older. This reflects an aging population that wants to — or must — work longer, or has faced age-related workplace barriers.
— Because of an owner’s inexperience, insufficient capital, inadequate networks or the desire for flexibility and/or work-life balance, many of these smaller firms have limited prospects for growth.
— There has been a dramatic rise in the number of women-owned businesses categorized as “other services” (e.g., hair and nail salons and pet care businesses). This category more than doubled between 2007 and 2018, from 1.3 million to 2.8 million. These businesses generated less revenue per firm ($29,200) than women-owned businesses as a whole ($143,100). Necessity and flexibility entrepreneurs frequently started businesses in this category.
Another area of increase was in health care and social assistance (including child day care and home health care services). The number of healthcare and social assistance firms grew from 1.2 million in 2007 to 1.8 million in 2018. These businesses generated less revenue per firm than women-owned businesses as a whole: $86,300 vs. $143,100.
–The report concludes with words of warning for the need to provide: training, networking events, mentorship, access to markets, access to finance and affordable childcare.
Hmmm … based on the Lewis campaign tweet, he asserts tax cuts are also a boon to women owned businesses … yet the report does mention the GOP tax cut.
Not really a surprise since the tax cut greatly benefit corporations and high-income earners.
Logically, if the revenue for an average women-owned business is $143,100, ya gotta think that changing the depreciation allowance from $500,000 under Section 179 of the tax code to a $1 million deduction per tax year, probably won’t impact the average women-owned business.
Actually, since the growth in businesses is in service industry (nail salons, day care, etc.), they are probably not purchasing that many depreciable assets.
Small business owners, regardless of sex, may find that the tax law changes just meant they will have more involvement with their tax accountant trying to figure out how changes in accounting rules for inventories and cost capitalization impact their business.
Hmmm … maybe the tax cut is good for women-owned accounting businesses.
To summarize, the numbers are just estimates (that are used by politicians based on how they want the data presented – “figures lie”) that the Jason Lewis campaign wants voters to give credit to the tax cut … even though the tax change had no impact on 2017.
Yet, the campaign tweet is really an attack on his opponent, Angie Craig.
Don’t ya gotta think that if you are a women-owned small business that you would want your Representative to be focused on the reasons why you started that business … gender pay differential, home-work-life balance, age-bias, etc. then whether your business could get a quicker write-off on new equipment valued between $500,000 and $1,000,000 ?
A quick check of the Angie Craig For Congress website reveals :
I started a Women In Business program to support and mentor women in their career choices and help them achieve that next level of success. Women have made great strides, but we still face challenges.
Washington should be in the business of rewarding entrepreneurship by making it easier for people to start and grow small businesses. In fact, I’m now an investor in a St. Paul start-up company called Structural.
Here’s what we can do from a policy point of view to help small businesses grow:
Make it easier to access capital and loans
Increase small businesses’ access to technical resources and technology
Simplify regulations and taxes for companies with 20 or fewer employees
Increase tax deductions for start-up and healthcare costs
Our work is not done until women have equal opportunity and an equal voice in this country. Women should receive equal pay for doing the same job, and today, that is sadly not the case. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act would be a great step in the right direction. We also must make sure that young women are being exposed to and encouraged to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, which currently count only 23% women among their workforce.
WOW … Angie Craig is promoting what all small businesses would want while Jason Lewis has ignored the FAMILY Act while tweeting misleading claims.
Congressman Lewis has proven himself to be a champion for corporations and the wealthy, but for women-owned small business, that is questionable.