Shocking or par for the course?

Via the Washington Free Beacon:

Obama administration officials may have pressured government contractors to change job loss estimates associated with coal regulations, audio recordings reveal.

The tapes show that unnamed officials with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) asked government contractors to change their calculations of job losses associated with the Stream Protection Rule.

A preliminary draft of an environmental impact statement estimated that up to 7,000 coalminers could lose their jobs under the administration’s “preferred” regulation. After a leaked copy of the report went public, officials asked the contractors to compare job estimates to a model in which another regulation was enforced, rather than the real world numbers.

“It’s not the real world, this is rulemaking,” an OSM official tells a skeptical contractor on the recording.

“If we’re to assume [the 2008 rule] is enforced in the coal-producing states, this is a very small [impact],” the contractor replies. “But that, as you said, is not the real world, that’s pretending … I thought we were looking at what’s going to change in Kentucky, what’s going to change in Pennsylvania, what’s going to change in Ohio, what’s going to change in Wyoming.”

When a second OSM official makes light of the “theoretical discussion,” the contractor shoots back that “his [the OSM official’s proposed criteria] was theoretical, mine was practical.”

The agency fired the contractors studying the rule less than one month later.

Not only has the administration been caught red-handed trying to manipulate numbers, they actively tried to cover up the scandal.

The House Natural Resources Committee obtained the tapes from an unidentified third party after OSM provided heavily redacted transcripts—the exchange above, for example, was blacked out—and withheld the audio recordings.

This is an administration that was caught nearly two years ago trying to inflate job numbers by demanding that Department of Energy contractors use a metric called ‘lives touched’ when counting jobs created via the stimulus.  As explained by a CH2M Hill spokesman in the summer of 2010:

“Lives Touched” is a figure that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses to track the amount of people who have been positively affected by the Recovery Act funds.  This total would include people who have been provided full time employment (i.e. saved and created jobs) through the Recovery Act and people who at some point have supported a project funded by the Recovery Act.

This meant that the DOE’s accounting system was not accurately counting jobs, but rather was tracking a cumulative analysis of all individuals who contribute anything to any given project.  An overall headcount of sorts.  According to reporting instructions for CH2M subcontractors, this constitutes the “total number of workers who have directly charged 1 or more hours of work time to a … contract”

This new report on contractors and the coal industry is just another in a pattern of the Obama administration using smoke and mirrors to convince the American people that the economy isn’t nearly as bad as one would think.  This particular case had the added effect of trying to minimize the tangible evidence that Obama was intentionally trying to kill the coal industry – a result that has been definitively proven.