Obama: “Every economist” says I saved or created 2 million jobs

posted at 9:30 am on February 4, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Jake Tapper is a little confused, and so am I.  The White House supposedly abandoned the “saved or created” jobs metric because of its fantasy elements and prefers now to count jobs “funded” through Porkulus, an order that came from one of the chief economists in the White House, Peter Orszag. So why did Obama claim to a Nashua, New Hampshire audience on Tuesday that he had “saved or created” two million jobs?

“Now, if you hear some of the critics, they’ll say, well, the Recovery Act, I don’t know if that’s really worked, because we still have high unemployment,” the president said. “But what they fail to understand is that every economist, from the left and the right, has said, because of the Recovery Act, what we’ve started to see is at least a couple of  million jobs that have either been created or would have been lost. The problem is, 7 million jobs were lost during the course of  this recession.”

Every economist?  A good rule of thumb to consider the truthfulness of any speaker is his use of the terms always, never, none, all, and every.  Those terms usually provide a key for a lie or a gap in knowledge — and Tapper points out the truth:

At the end of November, Congressional Budget office Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote that because of the stimulus bill “in the third quarter of calendar year 2009, an additional 600,000 to 1.6 million people were employed in the United States..”

But clearly other economists are much more skeptical, including Dan Mitchell at the libertarian Cato Institute, and J.D. Foster at The Heritage Foundation.

Some economists say the whole notion of counting “saved or created” jobs is impossible. Harvard University labor economist Lawrence Katz told ProPublica that trying to count how many jobs have been saved or created is “a silly exercise.”

And in fact, in December the Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag issued a directive scrapping the whole “saved or created” construct.

Why is the “saved or created” meme “a silly exercise”?  Economic policies will get judged on whether they promote growth in both production and jobs.  On that metric, Obama flopped in his first year.  Prior to the 2007 recession, the US started on the path of both production and job growth within 12 months of the start of the recession.  Obama took office in the 13th month, three months after a financial collapse.  Twelve months later, we’re still shedding jobs with no end in sight.  That’s the real measure of economic policy, and so far, Obama’s failing.

The White House only documented 650,000 jobs supposedly saved or created — and that was when the construct collapsed.  The counts included jobs that were never at risk in the first place, double-counted some jobs, counted jobs that had yet to be created, and so on.  The most infamous of these claims involved a single lawnmower that supposedly saved or created 50 jobs.  In the end, even the man in charge of the website that proclaimed these supposed victories admitted that he could not certify any of the data at Recovery.gov last November — which is why Orszag told his OMB staff to stop claiming jobs “saved or created.”

Apparently, that memo didn’t get to Obama, or more likely, Obama simply likes to make claims that are flat-out false, and the use of “every” is a the key to understanding that.  “Every economist” doesn’t buy the 2 million saved or created claim; in fact, not every economist in his own administration would support that claim, because it isn’t true, and Obama knows it.


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Comment pages: 1 3 4 5

bayam on February 4, 2010 at 2:21 PM

translation: He says what I want to hear, which means he’s brilliant.

MarkTheGreat on February 4, 2010 at 2:51 PM

I think Palin Steele should be known as ‘Dum-Dum’ here too.
Is anyone opposed?

DarkCurrent on February 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

I prefer Dum-Ass, to acknowledge his liberal dimocrap ties.

la.rt.wngr on February 4, 2010 at 2:53 PM

Someone I know was biking to work, to the same industrial park that Obama was speaking at that day. SS stopped him, found his garage door opener in his backpack and went ballistic. Took it apart, then disassembled his bike, tires off rims, everything, right down to the frame. Then left him there with a pile of parts. He was 3 hrs late to work.

Meanwhile, state dept vehicles are running over conservative bloggers and fleeing the scene.

WTF?!?!

viviliberoomuori on February 4, 2010 at 2:54 PM

bayam on February 4, 2010 at 2:16 PM

See thread headline. What the President said is clearly incorrect and he had to have understood that at the time he said it. Prof. Katz says it’s “silly” and he’s certainly right. The President is relying on a ridiculous yardstick in addressing a matter of some import, and unless he’s an utter fool he has to know this. He expects us to accept it uncritically, which is simply insulting.

Are you incapable of being insulted? I’m well-educated enough on these matters to know better, and I say the President’s full of crap on this.

DrSteve on February 4, 2010 at 2:56 PM

I see …. dead economists.

MarkTheGreat on February 4, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Priceless!! You guys are cracking me up…(keep it up–it’s the only thing that keeps me from grabbing the whiskey…)

lovingmyUSA on February 4, 2010 at 3:16 PM

All those economist, from the left and the right live in the “new” 400 plus Congressional districts!

DSchoen on February 4, 2010 at 3:18 PM

(V.P. Biden and House (Speaker Pelosi) seemed to move their heads in unison with the President.
yeah, because that is unique to president Obama , right?
jeez you’re dense
Palin Steele on February 4, 2010 at 9:45 AM

Me think V.P. Biden is unique to president Obama.

Do you know of a V.P. Biden who wasn’t V.P. Biden in the Obama admin?

DSchoen on February 4, 2010 at 3:48 PM

listen bozo, it was not only Obama who said this. Many on both the right and left thought the stimulus would stop the job losses. No one foresaw how bad it would get.
Palin Steele on February 4, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Really?

Will the stimulus actually stimulate? Economists say no
Mcclatchydc February 12, 2009

WASHINGTON — The compromise economic stimulus plan agreed to by negotiators from the House of Representatives and the Senate is short on incentives to get consumers spending again and long on social goals that won’t stimulate economic activity, according to a range of respected economists.

“I think (doing) nothing would have been better,” said Ed Yardeni, an investment analyst who’s usually an optimist, in an interview with McClatchy. He argued that the plan fails to provide the right incentives to spur spending.

200 Top Economists Say “Stimulus” Bill Won’t Work
Friday, January 30, 2009, 9:37 AM
Jim Hoft

200 top economic minds signed a national ad published in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal against the trillion dollar spending binge proposed by democrats. The ad, sponsored by the Cato Institute, blasts the massive boondoggle that funds liberal projects under the guise of “stimulating” the economy.
St. Louis Today and Free Republic reported:

“There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy.”
President-Elect Barack Obama

January 9, 2009

With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true. Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now

Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today.

The signers include some prominent names, including those of Nobel prize winners James Buchanan, Edward Prescott and Vernon Smith.

Larry Kudlow added this on the massive spending binge:
Government spending, deficits, and debt creation of this magnitude is simply unheard of. So the added TARP money will surely imperil the entire stimulus package as taxpayers around the country begin to digest the enormity of these proposed government actions. Financing of this type would not only destroy the U.S. fiscal position for years to come, it could destroy the dollar in the process. What’s more, the likelihood of massive tax increases — which at some point will become front and center in thi

s gargantuan funding operation — would doom the economy for decades.

With only a 42% of the public supporting the plan it looks like the tide may be turning on this disastrous piece of legislation.

Palin Steel are you lying or are you truly as stupid as you seem?

Remember, lying is a Bozo no-no!

DSchoen on February 4, 2010 at 4:56 PM

A quick look at Wall Street today should make “tea party” members out of just about anybody.

A 2.5% drop in the market (and your 401(k)) based mostly on the fact the Greece and Portugal are “on the brink” (with Spain and Ireland “on deck”) because they spent and spent in an attempt to bring about prosperity.

We will only get so many warnings before it all goes to hell.

Worse, gold dropped too, leaving “treasuries” as the only remaining “hedge,” a most scary prospect.

J_Crater on February 4, 2010 at 5:40 PM

I think Palin Steele should be known as ‘Dum-Dum’ here too.
Is anyone opposed?

DarkCurrent on February 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

I prefer Dum-Ass, to acknowledge his liberal dimocrap ties.

la.rt.wngr on February 4, 2010 at 2:53 PM

It goes without saying

CWforFreedom on February 4, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Obama: “Every economist” says I saved or created 2 million jobs

Well, just the ones that count.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 4, 2010 at 7:13 PM

I do not agree with the every economist quote.

USARMYRETIRED
MBA, PMP

usarmyretired on February 4, 2010 at 7:17 PM

See thread headline. What the President said is clearly incorrect and he had to have understood that at the time he said it. Prof. Katz says it’s “silly” and he’s certainly right. The President is relying on a ridiculous yardstick in addressing a matter of some import, and unless he’s an utter fool he has to know this. He expects us to accept it uncritically, which is simply insulting.

Like I said, it depends on whether Obama was referring to jobs saved via transfer payments or created and saved through direct stimulus. There’s no way you can get 2 mil jobs through direct stimulus.

As for the stimulus bill itself, it was the right decision to pump money into the economy at the height of the recession. This is standard economic policy, one followed by many past Dem and Republican administrations. The fact that this country grew a massive national debt and structural deficit during boom years is a separate issue.

Unfortunately, government spending is one of the only proven responses to a massive financial shock that results in reset asset prices. Companies are simply unable or unwilling to spend and invest in such a scenario. As anyone on Wall Street or corp America will tell you, when the value of your assets has been drastically cut, you need to hoard cash in order to repair your balance sheet. If the government doesn’t fill the void left by private sector inactivity, very bad things happen. Witness what happened to most democracies in the 1930′s or Japan when it tried to balance its budget during the decade long year recession that started in the 90′s.

bayam on February 4, 2010 at 8:07 PM

But isn’t the most important message we need to get out about the stimulus isn’t whether Obama lied or not. It’s the simple economic truth that the taxes to “save or create” a job costs more jobs than the jobs saved or create by spending those taxes.

thuja on February 4, 2010 at 8:07 PM

It’s the simple economic truth that the taxes to “save or create” a job costs more jobs than the jobs saved or create by spending those taxes

No one raised taxes to pay for the stimulus package. The general idea has been to balance the budget and pay down the national debt during boom years, and then engage in deficit spending during recessions to help the economy recover. This worked very well in the past, but then over the last decade the government decided to start deep deficit spending even when the economy soared. So now we’re kind of screwed. We didn’t save up for a rainy day when times were good.

bayam on February 4, 2010 at 8:35 PM

Mr. President, Here’s How to Lift our Economy: http://mittromneycentral.com/op-eds/11022009-mr-president-heres-how-to-lift-our-economy/

dnlchisholm on February 4, 2010 at 8:48 PM

No one raised taxes to pay for the stimulus package. The general idea has been to balance the budget and pay down the national debt during boom years, and then engage in deficit spending during recessions to help the economy recover. This worked very well in the past, but then over the last decade the government decided to start deep deficit spending even when the economy soared. So now we’re kind of screwed. We didn’t save up for a rainy day when times were good.

bayam on February 4, 2010 at 8:35 PM

Is there any evidence that any government has been able to credibly commit to the counter cyclical economic policy you claim has “worked very well in the past”?
Also, it’s incorrect to state that “No one raised taxes to pay for the stimulus package.” Economic decision makers among taxpayers are rational to the extent that they know that government spending must paid for–this idea is called Ricardian equivalence. Admittedly, the left denies its validity as you can see in the wikipedia article, but I would argue that good evidence exist that there are sufficient Richardian equivalence effects that Keynesianism is untenable.

thuja on February 4, 2010 at 9:32 PM

LOL! The only thing Barrack Obama has created or saved is his own political a$$.

Empty Suit.

TN Mom on February 5, 2010 at 12:07 AM

Is there any evidence that any government has been able to credibly commit to the counter cyclical economic policy you claim has “worked very well in the past”?

It’s never been done perfectly, but the outcome has consistently been better than another depression.

bayam on February 5, 2010 at 4:03 AM

Obama said he saved or created two million jobs. He forgot to mention that they were in China.

Roscoe on February 5, 2010 at 4:09 AM

“Let me be clear….I saved EVERY job in America! If it weren’t for the actions taken by my Administration, EVERY job in America would have been lost. And every economist agrees with me on this!”

olesparkie on February 5, 2010 at 7:52 AM

Drudge Headline: REVISED: 8.4M JOBS LOST IN RECESSION
So… Thanks to 0bama, for shouldering the burden of inheriting the Bush Cheney Halliburton Katrina BlackWater False Flag Economy, this number would have been 10.4 Million Jobs. See? We’re so lucky to have this man as our leader.

ronnyraygun on February 5, 2010 at 9:24 AM

EVERY Economist in American agrees that NoBama is a steamy sack of maggot infested monkey turds. Some argue whether it is a giant sack, or merely a large sack, but as for the monkey turds and maggots – they are all in agreement.

DuctTapeMyBrain on February 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Mark Faber: “Obama makes Bush look like a genius.”

Rae on February 5, 2010 at 12:15 PM

I just listened to Jolene with Dolly Parton on YouTube which inspired me to write this paraphrase:
.
Dolly Parton Obama Lyrics
.
Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama!
Im begging of you please don’t take my money
Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama!
Please don’t take them just because you can
Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ebony skin and eyes of emerald green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Obama!
.
You talk about taxes and I weep
There’s nothing I can do to keep
From crying when I hear your name, Obama!
.
And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my money
But you don’t know what they mean to me, Obama!
.
Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama!
Im begging of you please don’t take my money
Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama!
Please don’t take them just because you can
.
You could have your choice of policies
But I could never get rich again
The last chance for me, Obama!
.
I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do, Obama!
.
Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama!
Im begging of you please don’t take my money
Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama!
Please don’t take them even though you can
.

JC Silverberg on February 5, 2010 at 10:06 PM

There are plenty of economists who do not agree and I am one of them.

maggieo on February 6, 2010 at 3:38 PM

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