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What Happened to the Jobs?

Did we lose 500,000 jobs yesterday? No, that’s not a Nancy Pelosi slip-of-the-tongue. We learn from this report:

Both Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders lowered their work-creation expectation Wednesday. They had originally said their goal was to create, or save, four million jobs. Last night, they cut that to 3.5 million.

Now liberals would say that was a result of the spending “cuts” made by the  congressional deal-makers in the stimulus deal. If they had only kept more of the House spending trinkets that number might still be 4 million.  But let’s get real.

First, the plan was going to “save” 2 million jobs; then 3; next 4; now 3.5. But we are really in make-believe territory. There is no way, obviously, of calculating what might have been or what jobs would have been created without the stimulus, or frankly, by an alternative plan of action. What if the stimulus plan had included a corporate tax holiday, a capital gains and payroll tax cut and some short-term defense spending? Might we have “saved” 5 million jobs? If so, the actual plan we are following is a net loser of potential jobs. You can thus see the intellectual silliness of trying to calculate “saved” jobs.

But the lowering of expectations is more indicative of a political calculation than an economic one. The economy isn’t going to get better anytime soon, especially with Tim Geithner in slow-motion on a bank bailout plan. So better to let everyone know, albeit with phony numbers, not to expect very much anytime soon. We’ll see how patient voters are.


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