The Obama administration’s latest tactic for selling its jobs bill is to claim it will “support” 400,000 jobs (primarily in government). Ed Morrissey notes this metric is as unmeasurable as jobs “saved or created” by Obama’s failed stimulus law, which is a good springboard for underscoring a crucial point about the 2012 campaign.
Ace — as he occasionally does — recently buried this key point in a piece on media “fact-checking.” He noted that the Associated Press criticized Rick Perry for saying in a debate that the stimulus “created zero jobs.” (Indeed, Politifact rated the claim as “Pants On Fire.”) Ace observed:
Quick question, AP: How does Obama’s “saved or created” figure stack up with Bush’s? Or Clinton’s? Or the first Bush’s?
Trick question, of course, as there are no “saved or created” figures for those Presidents. The “saved or created” figure was invented by Obama, and thusfar has been applied to exactly one president.
When they speak of Bush only creating one million net jobs through his presidency, note they do not add in the number of jobs he might have also “saved.”
This is critical, because all previous presidents were held to account by strict, simple arithmetic: Number of jobs existing at the end of your term minus number of jobs existing at the beginning of your term equals your net job creation (or loss).
It is only President Precious who added in the “or saved” figure, and this can only be estimated, and of course we employ liberal economists’ formulas for guessing how government spending translates to job “saving” for this.
Obama has lost jobs while President. Period. That is the only statistic that has ever before mattered, net jobs created or lost. There is no third category of “saved,” and even if there were, one would have to calculate previous presidents’ “saved or created” numbers (much more generous!) to find an apples-to-apples comparison.
Instead, the AP and Obama and the rest of the media insist on this apples-to-orange comparison.
When Obama came up with the “saved or created” dodge, it wasn’t just people right of center noting it was a hustle. People like Lawrence Katz, former chief economist for the Clinton Labor Department, called it a “silly exercise” and noted the numbers were inherently inaccurate. This scam was so widely mocked that the Obama administration gave up officially counting jobs “saved or created” under the stimulus. However, it was irresistible as a political gimmick; administration officials were back to using it within a matter of days to distract from the abject failure of their economic policies.
And — as the so-called “fact-checking” of Perry shows — the establishment media not only let Team Obama get away with this fantasy unchallenged, but also joins in their propaganda effort.
The reflex on the right may be to shine this on as just another in the seemingly endless examples of the establishment media’s lefty bias. That would be a grave error. Given the obvious and prolonged stagnation of our economy during the Obama administration, the premise of Team Obama’s re-elect campaign is the counterfactual: It Could Be Worse. Hokum about jobs “saved” or “supported” is the very foundation of Team Obama’s campaign strategy. The GOP must point out early, often and loudly that Obama and the media want Obama to be judged by a bogus standard applied to no other president or candidate in American history. The GOP should be saying that we have lost 3.3 million net jobs so far under Obama (the truth) with the sort of discipline that the 1992 Clinton campaign told people it was the worst economy of the last 50 years (a lie). If they don’t, their nominee will be at least halfway to losing the election.