Moving the Employment Goalposts on the Stimulus

As the administration's Bullshit Recovery Summer dog-and-pony show lurches along, the Wall Street Journal editorial board checks in on yesterday's claim of around 3 million jobs created or saved. Excerpt:

Christina Romer went so far as to claim that the 3.5 million new jobs that she promised while the stimulus was being debated in Congress will arrive "two quarters earlier than anticipated." Yup, the official White House line is that the plan is working better than even they had hoped.

We almost feel sorry for Ms. Romer having to make this argument given that since February 2009 the U.S. economy has lost a net 2.35 million jobs. Using the White House "created or saved" measure means that even if there were only three million Americans left with jobs today, the White House could claim that every one was saved by the stimulus. [...]

Mr. Obama said recently in Racine, Wisconsin that the economy "would have been a lot worse" and the unemployment rate would have gone to "12 or 13, or 15 [percent]" if government hadn't spent all of that money.

This is called a counterfactual: a what would have happened scenario that can't be refuted. What we do know is what White House economists at the time said would happen if the stimulus didn't pass. They said the unemployment rate would peak at 9% without the stimulus (there's your counterfactual) and that with the stimulus the rate would stay at 8% or below. [...] In other words, today there are 700,000 fewer jobs than Ms. Romer predicted we would have if we had done nothing at all. If this is a job creation success, what does failure look like?

Whole thing here. I don't know about you, but government propaganda really irritates the hell out of me. Reason has been unpacking such efforts around the stimulus from the get-go.

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  • Alan Vanneman||

    "I don't know about you, but government propaganda really irritates the hell out of me. Reason has been unpacking such efforts around the stimulus from the get-go."

    Yes, and getting it wrong.

  • Jordan||

    Yes, and getting it wrong.

    Wow, you're evidence is just devastating!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    So how many jobs you think the stimulus created, Vannaman? I mean, your guess is probably as good as the White House's.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Vanneman. Jesus. I'm getting as bad as John.

  • ||

    Oh, Vannaman!

  • hmm in before MNG||

    Citation needed.

  • alan||

    Why is it always the pretty ones that are so dumb?

  • The Gobbler||

    Shouldn't you be at home writing your next Hobbit book?

  • B||

    As opposed to the administration that has been right all along, correct? Of course you have to discount the administration's promises about unemployment being kept at 8% or less if the stimulus is passed part in order for their statements to be right, but hey, we should give them the benefit of the doubt, right?

    Christ, this administration's defenders remind me of the Nostradamian nuts who transpose letters in varoius words and use the most tortured logic on earth to arrive at a predetermined meaning of a particular phrase and then say "Voila, Nostradamus is a prophet".

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "This is called a counterfactual: a what would have happened scenario that can't be refuted."

    It also can't be proven.

    The burden of proof is on them to prove the affirmative claim they are making.

    No one has to prove a negative.

  • President Barbie||

    Math is hard!

  • Jordan||

    Mr. Obama said recently in Racine, Wisconsin that the economy "would have been a lot worse" and the unemployment rate would have gone to "12 or 13, or 15 [percent]" if government hadn't spent all of that money.

    U6 is about 17%.

  • ||

    Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing its idiot.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Somewhere, a community is missing its organizer.

  • B||

    Somewhere a virulently anti-semitic preacher mentor is missing his protege.

  • ||

    I'm curious as to why 14% was impossible in Mr. Obama's rigorous projections.

  • ||

    I don't know about you, but government propaganda really irritates the hell out of me.

    Indeed. Today's NPR report on the stimulus money being paraded in Holland, Michigan, got me pretty irritated.

    They interviewed a tea-partier who was on the right track. He was having to apologize for slamming stimulus that was helping his hometown, and excusing his concern by citing what happens when the stimulus well runs dry in his town.

    He should have said, "You are talking to me because I am in a town receiving half a billion stimulus dollars that the president is visiting today. You are not talking to ten people just like me in ten other towns that did not receive stimulus dollars and are not being visited by the president -- yet who pay the taxes and incur the debts that fund the stimulus here. The selection bias on what you end up reporting may be inescapable, but you at least have to try to escape it."

  • ||

    This just proves the federal government is doing an awesome job, and if they hadn't ramrodded the stimulus through, unemployment would be three hundred per cent, and vast swathes of the country would have been completely depopulated by roving bands of cannibalistic marauders. We need to throw out the Constitution and make Obama Divine Emperor for Life.

  • ||

    damn, you beat me at noting the fantabulous job the gubermint is doing.
    I will raise you and say that if it were not for the stimulus, everyone in the universe, infinity, and beyond would be unemployed - twice (this is known as super duper unemployment)

  • ||

    I believe it's called Double Secret Unemployment.

  • deputyheadmistress||

    No, no, no. It's DoublePlusUnemployment, of course.

  • Scott66||

    When Romer was asked what were the main sectors that had the job increases she said alternate energy and infrastructure. For infrastructure projects she gave the example of community centers amoung others.

    So the jobs were created in a field that requires ongoing subsidies to maintain those jobs and on infrastructure projects that will also add no real economic benefits. Great.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    For Obama and his progressive drones, that's a feature not a bug.

  • hmm ||

    Stimulus is working here in STL!

    http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2.....ent-state/

    Or not.

  • ||

    Man, I miss the Carter administration.

  • ||

    Mr. Obama said...the unemployment rate would have gone to "12 or 13, or 15 [percent]" if government hadn't spent all of that money.

    After which a reporter asked, "Mr. President, with all due respect, are you just pulling those numbers out of your ass?"

    No he didn't. He never will. But a sun can dream, can't it?

  • ||

    After which a reporter asked, "Mr. President, with all due respect, are you just pulling those numbers out of your ass?"

    I would actually watch Presidential news conferences if I had even the faintest expectation that some day the White House press corps, confronted with some egregiously bogus assertion, would begin chanting in unison "BULL SHIT! BULL SHIT! BULL SHIT!" while stamping their feet in time and throwing wadded-up sheets of paper at him.

  • ||

    They came close during Bush's second term. There were times when Dana Perino resembled a supermarket checkout girl getting yelled at by a customer whose bread had been squished.

  • Tman||

    The level of complete insanity emanating from the administration right now is simply baffling.

    Romer says that 2.5-3.5 million jobs have been added because of the stimulus, yet unemployment is at 9.7%, which is a full point and a half higher than it was before stimulus II (electric bogaloo!) was enacted.

    So by her calculation, if unemployment was at say, 15%, would that mean the stimulus had added 10 million jobs?

    Am I dreaming or are they really saying this?

  • B||

    Maybe David Weigel can right a bullshit piece about how the right and Fox News are wrong to keep bringing up the failure of the stimulus and then Jesse Walker can write a piece about how Weigel is "right", even though it is obvious to anyone with two eyes and a brain that he isn't.

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