Bogus Porkulus numbers epidemic hits Wisconsin, too

The credibility of the Obama administration on stimulus accountability continues to crash today, this time in Wisconsin. The state’s largest newspaper calls the numbers of jobs “saved or created” not just inaccurate, but “wildly inflated.” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel picks up the trail blazed by the Associated Press and discovers that the numbers exist only as a product of an artificial White House calculus:

A stimulus job report that says more than 10,000 jobs were saved or created in Wisconsin is rife with errors, double counting and inflated numbers based more on satisfying federal formulas than creating real jobs, a Journal Sentinel review has found.

In one case, five jobs were mistakenly listed as 50 – and then counted twice. In another, pay raises to workers were listed as saving more than 100 jobs. And in another, jobs were listed as saved even though the money had not been received and no work on the project had begun. …

Double-counted jobs: About $7.3 million of federal money will flow to the Parkland Sanitary District in Douglas County to replace its sewer system, a project listed as creating or saving 100 jobs even though work won’t start until this spring, federal recovery data shows.

But that number is inflated by 95 jobs, Parkland Sanitary District treasurer Eric Shaffer admitted. …

Pay raises: United Migrant Opportunity Services based in Milwaukee reported saving 113 jobs through spending $18,000 of a Head Start preschool grant, or about $160 per job. The award provided their employees a 1.8% cost-of-living wage increase. The nonprofit provides services to migrant farm workers in Wisconsin and other states.

You have to love the example of the Parkland Sanitary District data being part of the White House claims.  They took credit for 100 jobs that don’t even exist, at least 95 of which they overstated when the jobs really do begin.  They took a 1900% markup on five phantom jobs — for a sewage project.  If anyone doubted that the White House numbers were crap, this should utterly convince them.

More phantom jobs exist in Wisconsin’s data, all of it from contracts given directly from the federal government.  One contractor claimed to have saved 24 jobs without receiving any money at all for that project, which may be the most efficient use of government funds in US history.  Five low-income housing projects reported saving 38 jobs through renter’s assistance, even though it saved — at best — five jobs.  It turns out that the money came from a HUD grant that had nothing to do with job creation.

Of course, the Wisconsin experience in Porkulus spending has other things in common with the rest of the country:

Once again, we see the high cost of “saving or creating” jobs in education — jobs that weren’t at risk in the first place.  It would take twenty years for the tax revenue from those jobs to repay the federal outlay for them, which we all will have to pay eventually.

The poor accounting for this massive spending program should be a national scandal.  At least the Journal-Sentinel and the AP are doing their part.  Where are the rest of the national media outlets, who make such a pretense of “speaking truth to power”?

Update: David Freddoso: “Stimulus saves nine out of every five jobs.”