On Saturday, the Obama administration quietly scrapped the "created or saved" rubric for measuring the president's success in job creation.
Covering the story, the Washington Post today also quietly noted the news, placing the story --entitled "Stimulus created 600,000 jobs at the end of 2009, White House says" -- on page A15.
The Post's Ed O'Keefe wrote the 18-paragraph story (emphasis mine):
The Obama administration's economic stimulus program created nearly 600,000 jobs in the final three months of 2009, a figure in line with the administration's goals for job creation through the end of 2010, the White House reported Saturday night.
The new total was down from the totals reported for the previous quarter, partly because the administration decided in December to count only the jobs paid for with stimulus funding instead of estimating the number of jobs "created or saved" with the money.
Critics had panned the "created or saved" measurement as a subjective and confusing way of determining the program's success.
The federal government on Saturday released about 160,000 quarterly spending reports from stimulus recipients representing about one-fifth of the program's spending. Federal law requires the release of reports covering infrastructure and education spending. Officials said new safeguards should help avoid the mistakes discovered in last fall's first batch of information.
Of course, there's still plenty of criticism about how fuzzy the Obama administration's numbers are:
Craig Jennings, a fiscal policy analyst with the nonpartisan OMB Watch, said his group still wants to see recipients report the number of hours worked by employees as opposed to the number of jobs created.
"Count the number of hours funded by Recovery Act dollars, then let the experts decide if that's a job," Jennings said.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a vocal critic of the recovery program, warned the White House against attempts to spin the latest batch of information to its political benefit.
"If the new numbers are used to create transparency and better understand how and where funds are being spent, that's a good thing," Issa said. "If the administration again takes the new numbers out of context and creates another propaganda effort on the stimulus, then they're setting themselves up for the same criticism they brought on themselves after the initial reporting period."