Given all the heat they’ve gotten for pulling numbers out of their ass to inflate the amount of jobs “created or saved” by our $787 billion handout to Democratic special interests, the logical thing to do would be to clean up their act and be more conservative with their estimates.

But as partisans of both sides would agree, logic doesn’t always help win elections.

The memo, first noted by ProPublica, says that those receiving stimulus funds no longer have to say whether a job has been saved or created.

“Instead, recipients will more easily and objectively report on jobs funded with Recovery Act dollars,” Orszag wrote.

In other words, if the project is being funded with stimulus dollars – even if the person worked at that company or organization before and will work the same place afterwards – that’s a stimulus job…

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to the chair of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board Earl Devaney saying that “the new guidance counts every jobs that is funded using stimulus money – even if it existed before the Recovery Act, and was not in any danger of being eliminated – as ‘created or saved.’ This definition ignores the plain meanings of the words ‘created’ and ‘saved’ and makes Recovery.gov’s ‘JOBS CREATED/SAVED’ label a falsehood, further eroding the confidence of the American people in their government.”

Makes sense. Why continue the sham of insisting that the stimulus is generating new jobs or protecting old ones? The bleaker the national unemployment picture looks, the more absurd that rhetoric sounds. Enter the new rhetoric: If you’re taking federal money, even if you’re not hiring or laying anyone off, you are ipso facto stimulated. Some examples from Pro Publica:

* When Chrysler reported a $53 million contract to build 3,000 government vehicles last fall, it listed zero jobs because it used existing employees to fill the orders. But under the new rules, those workers would have counted.

* The Associated Press found that some recipients were counting pay raises as stimulus jobs. That will be OK under the new rules, but only if they are counted as fractions of a job.

* The California state auditor rapped the state corrections department for reporting 18,000 jobs instead of just 5,000 officers who had received layoff notices before stimulus money came in. But under the new guidance, the corrections department may have been right because stimulus money is helping it make payroll for all its employees.

If the “stimulus” standard’s that low, why don’t they start handing out vouchers to people on the street redeemable for goods and services at American businesses? An AP analysis published this morning and reviewed by five economists found that stimulus funds spent on infrastructure projects has had no effect — zippo — on local unemployment rates. Quote: “”There seems to me to be very little evidence that it’s making a difference.” Why not just abandon the dopey job metric entirely and focus on driving up demand?