Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Illusion, Jobs & A Media-Love

Jobless claims are going up and up. Obama told us they would top out at 8% if only we would sign his stimulus check without bothering to read the bill. That was four months ago. Today, unemployment stands at 9.4% and no one is making any projections to suggest it won't hit double digits. Yet we are repeatedly told by Obama that his stimulus plan has saved or created hundreds of thousands of jobs. How to reconcile these two? Its simple - Obama is spinning more fiction than Dan Brown, and the sycophantic MSM is printing it word for word without challenge.

This from the WSJ:

. . . "Saved or created" has become the signature phrase for Barack Obama as he describes what his stimulus is doing for American jobs. His latest invocation came yesterday, when the president declared that the stimulus had already saved or created at least 150,000 American jobs -- and announced he was ramping up some of the stimulus spending so he could "save or create" an additional 600,000 jobs this summer. These numbers come in the context of an earlier Obama promise that his recovery plan will "save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years."

Mr. Fratto [who worked in the Bush White House] sees a double standard at play. "We would never have used a formula like 'save or create,'" he tells me. "To begin with, the number is pure fiction -- the administration has no way to measure how many jobs are actually being 'saved.' And if we had tried to use something this flimsy, the press would never have let us get away with it."

Of course, the inability to measure Mr. Obama's jobs formula is part of its attraction. Never mind that no one -- not the Labor Department, not the Treasury, not the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- actually measures "jobs saved." As the New York Times delicately reports, Mr. Obama's jobs claims are "based on macroeconomic estimates, not an actual counting of jobs." Nice work if you can get away with it.

And get away with it he has. However dubious it may be as an economic measure, as a political formula "save or create" allows the president to invoke numbers that convey an illusion of precision. Harvard economist and former Bush economic adviser Greg Mankiw calls it a "non-measurable metric." And on his blog, he acknowledges the political attraction.

"The expression 'create or save,' which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius," writes Mr. Mankiw. "You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus."

Mr. Obama's comments yesterday are a perfect illustration of just such a claim. In the months since Congress approved the stimulus, our economy has lost nearly 1.6 million jobs and unemployment has hit 9.4%. Invoke the magic words, however, and -- presto! -- you have the president claiming he has "saved or created" 150,000 jobs. It all makes for a much nicer spin, and helps you forget this is the same team that only a few months ago promised us that passing the stimulus would prevent unemployment from rising over 8%.

. . . Now, something's wrong when the president invokes a formula that makes it impossible for him to be wrong and it goes largely unchallenged. It's true that almost any government spending will create some jobs and save others. But as Milton Friedman once pointed out, that doesn't tell you much: The government, after all, can create jobs by hiring people to dig holes and fill them in.

. . . "You would think that any self-respecting White House press corps would show some of the same skepticism toward President Obama's jobs claims that they did toward President Bush's tax cuts," says Mr. Fratto. "But I'm still waiting."

We are in serious trouble, and smoke and mirrors will only hide it for so long. You can see my post below that covers both the jobless claims and the MSM's wholesale dereliction of duty as part of the larger and dire economic problems that we face. Obama came to power saying that he wanted to "transform" the economy. What he is transforming it into is something that will more closely resemble Zimbabwe than the post-WWII economy of the past half century.

1 comment:

MathewK said...

I think you folks in America are going to catch onto hussein obama faster than the rest of us have onto our own leftist clowns. I'm waiting impatiently for you folks to wake up to him. It's going to happen sooner or later. I just hope the Republicans will figure out their ass from their elbows when that time comes.