Unbelievable. The Obama administration is making even more ridiculous claims about the effect of the stimulus, and the stenographers at the L.A. Times are swallowing it whole:
Stimulus saved or created up to 2 million jobs in 2009, White House says
The Obama administration, offering evidence that its much-maligned efforts to spur economic recovery have begun to take hold, said Tuesday that the $787-billion stimulus program saved or created 1.5 million to 2 million jobs last year.
These latest figures from the White House Council of Economic Advisors are certain to be challenged by Republicans, but the employment and economic effects of the stimulus cited in the report are generally in line with estimates from some leading private economists as well as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Note the pre-emptive language: those damn Republicans will certainly criticize the numbers. But don’t listen to them, because the figure is backed up by leading private economists and the CBO.
Except that not one single “leading private economist” is quoted in the article.
Nor does the article tell readers that the CBO doesn’t have a clue how many jobs were “created or saved.” The CBO has given a huge range of 600,000 to 1.6 million extra jobs. (Is 600,000 in line with 1.5 million to 2 million?) But in reality, the CBO itself admits that it has no idea how much of this alleged increase was caused by the stimulus:
[I]t is impossible to determine how many of the reported jobs would have existed in the absence of the stimulus package.
That’s a quote from the CBO report. They don’t have a clue.
Back to the L.A. Times article, which tells us:
In its first quarterly report on the stimulus, issued in September, the White House estimated that the Recovery Act had raised employment levels by more than 1 million jobs as of the third quarter. The new report incorporates data from stimulus recipients who said they saved or created 640,000 full-time-equivalent jobs as of the third quarter.
The White House’s estimate of stimulus-induced jobs for 2009 is based on economic modeling and projections and as such is likely to be met with considerable skepticism from Republicans and other critics who have not only questioned the methodology but also documented cases in which stimulus money went to dubious projects.
It’s more than that. The 640,000 number is an utter joke. It’s not just Republicans who have questioned the methodology — it’s also several media outlets in various places all around the country.
And it’s not merely a case of dubious projects. It’s a matter of out-and-out deception on the part of the administration in describing how many jobs were “created or saved” — to the point where the administration has actually decided to abandon that measurement (something I guess they forget to tell their own Council of Economic Advisors). Raises and pay for people who were never going to lose their jobs were counted as jobs “created or saved” before. Now they are explicitly counted as jobs “funded” by the stimulus.
Jobs were reported to be created or saved in congressional districts that don’t exist. The sale of one lawnmower was credited with saving 50 jobs.
The AP found that stimulus spending on transportation had no effect on local unemployment. No effect. Zip. Nada. Zilch.
None of this makes it into the article. None.
It’s just stenography. The White House says it, and so it must be true.
Utterly pathetic. Now do you see why this sort of journalism needs to die?