Commentary Magazine


Can We Get The Money Back?

The Obama team is spinning another jump in unemployment as somehow good news — because we aren’t losing as many jobs each month as we were. Well, yes, but if we keep losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every month we’ll be in a very deep hole. And it’s no walk in the park for those unemployed Americans whose only solace is that the rate of other people losing jobs has slowed. As Bob Herbert writes: “It’s a measure of just how terrible the economy has become that a loss of more than a half-million jobs in just one month can be widely seen as a good sign. The house is still burning down, but not quite as fast.”

The AP observes this wasn’t what we were promised if the stimulus bill passed:

The economy lost another 539,000 jobs in April, bumping the unemployment rate up to 8.9 percent, the highest in 26 years, according to the Labor Department report released Friday.That figure already exceeds assumptions made by Obama’s economic advisers when they pushed for a $787 billion stimulus package — a measure that they said would be critical in reviving the slumping economy.

So how are we going to know how far off from the president’s 3.5M “saved or created” figure we are? We won’t:

[I]t’s hard to tell exactly where Obama’s record stands — or where he thinks it stands — because the White House has not yet announced how it intends to count jobs created by the stimulus bill. Obama’s number is based on a job-counting formula that his economists have developed but have not made public.

Whatever the formula, economists who study job creation say it will require some creative math. That’s because Obama has lumped “jobs saved” in with “jobs created.” Even economists for organizations that stand to benefit from the stimulus concede it probably is impossible to estimate saved jobs because that would require calculating a hypothetical: how many people would have lost their jobs without the stimulus.

So to be clear: we’re headed for double digit unemployment, the very thing the stimulus bill was supposed to stave off. We didn’t keep unemployment anywhere near 8% as the administration predicted — but we did rack up a whole lot of debt. The administration tells us this is all a ray of sunshine. And they said George Bush was cut off from reality.

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