When Barack Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate, we all wondered what Obama had been smoking. Biden not only had the taint of plagiarism from his first presidential run, he had built a reputation for making serial gaffes when off of his (or Neil Kinnock’s) script. What value did Obama see in bringing that kind of loose-cannon, banana-peel reputation into the administration?
Many of the claims the White House is making are based on anecdotes selected to fit the Obama administration’s message. For instance, the report cites a newspaper article about workers being rehired at a factory in Chicago. That account is true, but is no more an accurate snapshot of the nation’s economy than a story, not cited in the report, about a Roanoke, Va., railcar factory closing.
Capturing the full effect of the stimulus at this early stage is difficult, but the administration has set high bars for success. In championing those successes, however, the White House plays a little loose with the facts.
A little loose with the facts? That’s putting it mildly. Joe Biden tried to claim an increase in hiring in New Orleans, while the unemployment rate skyrocketed in the first quarter. The AP reserves a special place for Biden’s uncheckable “150,000 jobs created” since the stimulus passed:
The argument is that the job numbers would have been even worse had it not been for the stimulus, and the difference between those numbers is a net positive.
To visualize that disconnect, consider this: The administration has promised to create or save 600,000 more jobs in the next 100 days. Even if the nation loses another 5 million jobs during that span (a highly unlikely prospect) the White House could still claim success.
Sure they can. They can claim success as often as they like when they pull numbers out of their nether regions, the origin point for their “150,000 jobs” claims. Few news organizations have insisted on an accounting of those jobs. King Banaian explained the calculation earlier this month; the administration basically believes that a certain amount of spending creates a new job, and that therefore they can claim X number of new jobs based on nothing other than the amount of money they’ve spent. They’re not looking at the BLS numbers for unemployment to determine whether these policies work. They’re just spending the money, mostly on non-stimulus Democratic wish lists like projects as relevant as high-speed rail.
Only a fool would believe these statements, and only a fool would make them. Fortunately for Barack Obama, he hired one last August.