It takes a lot of nerve to get up in front of the press and claim job creation or salvation with specific numbers as unemployment skyrockets. Of course, when Barack Obama does it, the act takes a little less courage, as the everyone knows the national media won’t challenge him on it:
This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last 100 days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity.
We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families.
Really? Which 150,000 jobs were those? Does Obama have any supporting data for this claim? We wouldn’t know from the performance at the press conference, as not one single reporter asked Obama to corroborate that claim. The only follow-up on jobs came from Andre Showell, who asked a softball about black unemployment and how Obama would address it.
My good friend King Banaian wonders about this as well. The chair of economics at St. Cloud State University thinks he might have found the origin for the data:
So where do they get away with a number like that?
Actually, I thought this was easy. The administration has claimed that ARRA (“the stimulus bill”) will “save or create” 3.3 million jobs in 2 years. So I thought perhaps what they were doing was taking the date of signing, Feb. 17, computing how much of two years had passed (71/730 ~= 9.7%) and … well, that doesn’t work, because on a pro-rated basis they would get to claim 321,000 jobs.
I thought then maybe he had specific numbers. I recall him saying that he was told Caterpillar would call back the 20,000 in layoffs it had originally called for. But that doesn’t work out either, because Caterpillar is still laying off. Initial filings for unemployment insurance have risen through the first 100 days, though today’s number is a hopeful step downward.
King has a clip of the classic Bullwinkle sequence when he tries to pull a rabbit out of a hat. I think Obama pulled this number from somewhere else, but be sure to read all of King’s analysis.