Saturday, October 17, 2009

Job Results of the Porkulus Bill: How Do They Report These Figures With Straight Faces?

Obama's idea of  "jobs saved or created" by the stimulus bill has always been ambiguously ridiculous and also laughable if you're in the mood to laugh, although it's hard to laugh when looking at the dismal employment numbers over the past year. How does anyone "prove" a job was saved with the stimulus bill--well, such proof isn't possible, and for the Obama administration, that's the beauty of it. It can't even "proved" that a job was created by the stimulus bill. As the website ProPublica reminds us, gauging the jobs impact of the stimulus means comparing it against a hypothetical, stimulus-free scenario—a “baseline” that can be projected but by definition never known.*

We're finally getting some "hard numbers" for the jobs created or saved--but again, how do they track a saved job? I guess a job "saved" is whatever the government wants to define as a saved job. I can't find anywhere where they define that absurdly ambiguous term. But let's play along.

These numbers come from the feds: Out of a stimulus package of $787 billion, $339 billion has been awarded. The first direct stimulus reports showed that stimulus contracts saved or created just 30,083 jobs. Thirty thousand jobs? And that's if you also count "saved" jobs? Plus, how many of those "created" jobs were temporary jobs that disappeared after a few weeks or months? I can't find an answer to that question.

But evidently, since this all comes under the Obama administration, we are supposed to cheer and clap at these numbers, not criticize. This gem of a quote comes from The Hill website:

Aides to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted that nearly 3.4 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus was passed in February. They also dug up quotes by President Obama, Biden and their economists in which they predicted that the stimulus would save or create 3 to 4 million jobs.

"Dug up quotes?" Are we now supposed to have amnesia about Campaign Obama's promise to "save or create," not 3 to 4 million jobs, but 5 million jobs? Also slipped in with this ridiculous 30,000 "saved or created" job number is the little-noted factoid that $339 billion of the $787 billion of the porkulus package has now been "awarded." To whom? Where is the money going? Has the most transparent administration evah told us that? Go here to see an interactive, meaningless map from with green dots to show where the money is going.

“Despite numerous promises from Congressional Democrats, there are still 15.1 million Americans out of work,” said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “After wasting taxpayer dollars to produce an unimpressive 397 jobs in Michigan, middle-class families are still asking one thing: Where are the jobs?”

The jobs numbers, as Ken Spain points out, are really abysmal. The most jobs created, about 4500, went to Colorado, which has the lowest unemployment figure, 7.3%.

Hey Barry: "It's the jobs, stupid." Here's CampaignObama in Rolla, Missouri, on the campaign trail in 2008. The money quote in this video comes at about 5:46: "We can create 5 million new green energy jobs, if we are serious about it, and I am serious about it, that's how we're going to restore manufacturing in America." Sad. Read this 18 March 2009 article from The Heritage Foundation: "The Green Job Myth Exposed." What is a green job? No standard definition exists.

*ProPublica is new to me. Their tagline: "jouralism in the public interest." They say they're an "independent" and non-profit newsroom, and their site seems quite robust. I like their "Change Tracker" site: we watch the White House's web site so you don't have to.

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