Even congressional Democrats are disgusted with the Obama administration’s phony accounting of what the stimulus plan supposedly is accomplishing. Earlier this week, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey lambasted the government’s flawed data purporting to show that $160 billion in stimulus spending has created or saved at least 640,000 jobs. In response to reports that the administration has been forced to delete 60,000 jobs from its list and that it claimed to have created 30 jobs in a non-existent congressional district, Obey had this to say:
The inaccuracies are outrageous and the administration owes itself, the Congress and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes. We designed the Recovery Act to be open and transparent. Whether the numbers are good news or bad news, I want the honest numbers and I want them now.
At the Washington Post, however, Alec MacGillis sees the problem not as a combination of dishonesty and incompetence by the Obama administration, but rather as the administration’s “decision to provide numbers in the first place.” This seems like an odd position for a newspaper man to take. Isn’t lack of transparency a bad thing? That was always the Post’s view during the Bush administration.
MacGillis points out that it is “exceedingly difficult for even the most conscientious government agency to calculate the jobs impact of a stimulus grant.” But if that’s true, and I’m pretty sure it is, then it must be even more difficult (and probably impossible) to calculate the jobs impact of stimulus legislation before it has been adopted. Yet, Obama didn’t hesitiate to make this “calculation,” promising that the stimulus proposal would save or create 3.5 million jobs in two years.
The essence of the problem, then, is Obama’s bogus projection. But MacGillis apparently is willing to give the president a pass on that.
Once Obama made his baseless promise about the impact of the stimulus legislation, he had little choice but to track in some fashion the legislation’s impact on employment. Had he declined to do so, surely the Washington Post and other MSM watchdogs would have been all over the administration, citing the president’s promises of “transparency” and the need to hold him accountable for….
Come to think of it, MacGillis is right — Obama did make a strategic mistake by agreeing to provide data.