Lies, Damned Lies and Job Statistics

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Economy: The White House tries to spin its own economists' conclusions that the Democrats' massive, ineffective stimulus package cost a whopping $278,000 per job. If only it was that cheap.

On the Friday of the July 4th weekend, obviously hoping that few would notice, President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers released a report on the effects of the $800 billion-plus American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Keynesian stimulus that the president claims saved America from a second Great Depression.

The CEA report concluded "that as of the first quarter of 2011, the ARRA has raised employment relative to what it otherwise would have been by between 2.4 million and 3.6 million." The Weekly Standard did the math and pointed out that that amounts to "a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job." Early in the Obama administration, the CEA said that about $92,000 in government spending would create one job for one year.

But it's likely the real cost is far higher than the Standard reckoned. The Heritage Foundation once referred to it as the "Generational Theft Act," warning that its "temporary" provisions for increased funding for programs the left loves would never be reined in.

In 2009, it put the price tag at $3.27 trillion, pegging the cost per job at $900,000 to $1.3 million, depending on which figure on job creation or saving you accept.

This was a piece of legislation bloated with waste and favors for public-sector interests. How many jobs were created or "saved," when the National Institute of Mental Health spent $823,200 of stimulus funds on training uncircumcised African men how to wash their private parts, as reported by

In 2009, Jared Bernstein, head of the White House Middle Class Working Families Task Force, was boasting "that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months." This year, Bernstein fled the White House for the high grass of a non-profit think tank rather than remain part of the team defending that amid a jobless rate above 9%.

As ProPublica's Olga Pierce noted in 2009, after the White House explained to her its methods of measuring stimulus progress, "if the job-creation numbers the administration gets from real-world data disagree with its estimates, they reserve the right to blame the data. From an accountability perspective, this will make it difficult to assess the stimulus' successes and failures."

Even the New York Times' Paul Krugman in 2009 was complaining about "the bogus talking point" that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created, arguing that the true cost "will probably be closer to $100,000 ... and the net cost will be as little as $60,000 once you take into account the fact that a stronger economy means higher tax receipts."

That strong economy has yet to materialize, and taxpayers are asking what they got for their money.

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