Tag: jobs saved

Making Government Bigger Is Not Stimulus - and It Won’t Create Jobs

This new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity explains how last year’s so-called stimulus was a flop - and also reveals why politicians are pushing for another big-government spending bill.

Interestingly, since last year’s stimulus was such a disaster, the redistributionists in Washington are calling their new proposal a “jobs bill.” But as I say in the video, this is akin to putting perfume on a hog.

For further background, here is a video explaining why Keynesian economics is wrong and another predicting (in advance!) that last year’s stimulus would be a mistake. And just in case anyone actually wants the economy to grow faster, here’s one about policies that actually increase prosperity.

Even Obama’s Make-Believe Jobs Are Not Real

The White House recently began claiming that the “Recovery Act” had “created or saved” 640,000-plus jobs. This turns out to have been a political mistake, in part because even sympathetic reporters understand that the “jobs saved” measure allows for creative accounting. But the White House also erred by providing (supposed) details about the jobs that were created. This made it very easy for reporters and other curious people to do a bit of fact checking, which has generated a spate of stories showing that the White House’s numbers are wrong, even using make-believe methodology. The Washington Examiner has put together a very useful interactive map which links to many of the news reports debunking the Administration’s fraudulent numbers.

Stimulus Jobs Reporting Charade

I have been reluctant to engage in the squabbling over the accuracy of the stimulus job “creation” figures because I believe it is more important to focus attention on the underlying “rob Peter to pay Paul” reality of Washington’s endeavor. As I mentioned yesterday, the government cannot “create” anything without also inflicting economic damage because the money ultimately comes at the expense of the private sector via taxation. There are countless other problems with government job “creation” efforts, including economic miscalculation, inefficiency, waste, etc. — not to mention the immorality of robbing poor Peter.

Yesterday, the White House issued a defense in response to an Associated Press finding that previously released numbers were overstated. The following sentence raised my eyebrow:

The reports are not from the government, but from the very people putting Recovery Act funds to work — governors, mayors, county executives, private businesses and community organizations across the country.

Today the federal government is supposed to release new job creation figures.  I believe most of the numbers will originate with state government officials tasked with collecting and reporting jobs “created” with the stimulus dollars that passed through their state. Based on my own experience as an ex–state government employee responsible for collecting and reporting data purporting to show how well state programs were performing, I feel compelled to comment on the accuracy of today’s release.

Not only will today’s state-reported numbers be impossible to prove, they will be flush with erroneous, deceptive, and as Reason’s Sam Staley says, bogus claims. As Sam notes:

The numbers of jobs created or “saved” are simply counts provided by state agencies spending stimulus money. They simply record the number of people hired under the contract or for the project. They are not the result of investigative follow up, or a consistent methodology for identifying real jobs created or saved. (Indeed, these methodological problems have plagued economic development program evaluations for decades as states have claimed jobs were created by various tax incentive programs but no real way to verify the accuracy of the numbers.)

When I worked in Indiana’s state Office of Management and Budget, part of my job was to collect “performance measures” from state agencies. The idea was to offer Indiana taxpayers the appearance that the governor was holding state agencies accountable for how they spent money. In reality, we had no idea if the numbers state agencies gave us were accurate. There were no audits, and once the agencies figured out the whole effort  was really a political gimmick, they often just gave us self-serving nonsense. Nonetheless, the numbers were pawned off on the public because it served political ends.

The Obama administration will continue to trumpet the number of jobs the stimulus package “created.” It will brag that the government’s efforts were not only successful, but that they were conducted with unprecedented transparency and accountability. But taxpayers and citizens should not buy into these claims. The stimulus jobs report is simply political theater: a charade intended to maintain public support for, or acquiescence to, Washington’s multiplying encroachments.

How Many Jobs Saved? We Do Not Know

In the past couple of days the administration has been discussing the employment impact of its stimulus package. Employment has declined steadily since adoption of the package, so it might seem odd to claim that it has already had beneficial impacts. The administration’s response is that employment would have declined even faster without the stimulus, so hundreds of thousands of jobs have been saved.

The administration might be right, but how can we know? The short answer is, we cannot know with any confidence because we cannot know what employment would have been in the absence of the stimulus. Thus, the concept of “jobs saved” is problematic; it allows the administration to conclude, no matter how bad things get, that the stimulus worked because the economy would have been even worse without the stimulus.