Tuesday, June 9, 2009

$300,000 per Job Purportedly Saved by Stimulus

President Obama recently boasted that his stimulus plan has "saved or created nearly 150,000 jobs."

This is a flagrantly unverifiable claim. Concrete data compiled by the Department of Labor tells us how many jobs have been lost or created, but there is no apparatus we can use to report that a job was almost lost—much less who receives the credit for saving it.

Nobody seemed to notice until former Bush deputy press secretary Tony Fratto began screaming bloody murder to the Wall Street Journal: "We would never have used a formula like 'save or create.' 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."

But the media has let the Obama administration get away with it, with a few exceptions.

The Associated Press reported that Obama's figure "is so murky it can never be verified." The L.A. Times reported Obama advisor David Axelrod's claim that the stimulus "has produced hundreds of thousands of jobs." The administration clearly needs to get its imaginary numbers straight.

However, let's give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the stimulus has saved 150,000 jobs. The government reports that it has spent $43.7 billion in stimulus funds as of May 29. That means that the administration has spent nearly $300,000 for ever job purportedly saved. ($291,333, to be precise. It's easy—just divide 43.7 billion by 150,000.)

I don't know what those 150,000 men and women are doing, but unless they're curing cancer, building a better iPhone, or doing something else to drastically improve the quality of American life, I'm going to posit that their jobs are not worth $300,000 a piece of our money.

Think that's a waste of money? Just wait until the government spends the remaining $740 billion!

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