The Obama administration continues to push its "jobs created and saved" theme, taking credit for up to a million jobs on account of its $787 billion economic stimulus package (roughly a quarter of which has been spent). But some in the media remain skeptical.
Politico.com announced on Oct. 30 that White House officials planned a Friday afternoon announcement for the same day claiming "at least 1 million jobs" had been saved or created.
The higher claim of 1 million was based on extrapolation - the White House report examined the first $150 billion of $339 billion stimulus funds spent so far.
The White House recently "fired back" at Associated Press (AP) for saying that the number of jobs created or saved was "overstated by thousands." AP reviewed data from the first progress report of the stimulus and found huge discrepancies.
"[S]ome jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two, three, four or even more times," Brett J. Blackledge and Matt Apuzzo wrote for AP.
"The discrepancy raises questions about the reliability of a key benchmark the administration uses to gauge the success of the stimulus. The errors could be magnified Friday [Oct. 30] when a much larger round of reports is released. It is expected to show hundreds of thousands of jobs repairing public housing, building schools, repaving highways and keeping teachers on local payrolls," AP concluded.
Caroline Baum, a Bloomberg News columnist, criticized the "created or saved" fantasy being propagated by the White House.
Baum called the phrase a "made-up metric if there ever was one." She quoted Bill Dunkelberg of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) who said, "Government job creation is an oxymoron" because it merely takes money away from the private sector's ability to hire.
Even CBS was skeptical on Oct. 29 when Chip Reid told Katie Couric, "if the administration`s first effort at counting stimulus jobs is any guide, tomorrow`s numbers could be hard to believe." (See fellow Newsbuster Noel Sheppard's post)
It's about time the networks acquired some skepticism. Many have let the administration get away with using such a fictional metric for months now. On May 28, NBC "Nightly News" spotlighted a stimulus-funded project that "saved or created" jobs and brought "hope" to a Missouri town. ABC repeated White House claims of saving or creating jobs on May 11 and again May 13.
Even before Obama was president, the media were reluctant to call him out for his vacillating job numbers, which climbed from 2.5 million to 3 million and then to 4.1 million.