Are 650,000 Jobs Enough?

The report card on how much stimulus spending created local jobs is already drawing fire

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The Obama administration hasn't had much luck emphasizing the economic good news. There was little enthusiasm for Thursday's recession-ending GDP figure, and Friday's jobs report card, which shows the government's $787 billion stimulus created 650,000 state and local jobs, has been pre-emptively attacked by Republicans as flawed. Officials are stressing that these numbers have been put under the microscope, unlike previous jobs-creation figures that were found to be riddled with factual holes.

As analysts begin to scrutinize the report card, the numbers are adding fuel to the fight over whether the economy needs further stimulus. The right asserts that money is being wasted to prop up bureaucracy, while liberals believe the economy has not got enough of a jump start.

  • More Stimulus Needed For Growth, Not Just Jobs, says Paul Krugman at the New York Times. "What we'd really like to see isn't just successful job creation; we'd like to see 'pump-priming' or 'jump-starting' -- that is, we'd like to see stimulus jolting the economy into self-sustaining growth. It's important to understand that this isn't required to make stimulus worthwhile -- it's neither a prediction of the standard models nor a part of the basic welfare argument for stimulus. But it would be nice if it happened. And more to the point, if there isn't a whole lotta jump-starting going on, the original judgment I and others reached -- that the stimulus is way too small -- stands."
  • Fuel for a Political Fight says David Jackson at USA Today. "Behind these numbers, a political argument. The Obama administration says it inherited a bad economy, and that without acting, things would be even worse and those same jobs wouldn't be there; they tout the recent spike in the economic growth rate, 3.5 percent between July and September. Republicans say things aren't getting any better and that the only thing the stimulus bill has contributed to the economy is a higher federal deficit."
  • Postponing Inevitable Bureaucratic Layoffs, asks Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "When the grant money runs out, those states will still have to make tough decisions on the size and costs of their bureaucracies. They will still have to either raise taxes or start trimming their payrolls, and it won't be the teacher or the firefighter who gets the pink slip. Porkulus will do the same thing that Cash for Clunkers did, which was to postpone the inevitable -- and cost us a fortune in doing so." He concludes by remembering that "It was almost two months ago when the administration first claimed it had saved or created one million jobs. I guess nothing much happened after September 10th."
  • Can't Trust the Numbers, says Veronique de Rugy at National Review.  "I would put no faith in the reported data. Why? Because the last figure of 30,383 jobs created or saved reported a few weeks ago (still displayed on the website as I type this post), and vigorously defended by the administration, was packed with mistakes and overstatements."
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