Try to get through the following passage from this story without laughing:
Posting its results late this afternoon at Recovery.gov, the White House claimed 640,329 jobs have been created or saved because of the $159 billion in stimulus funds allocated as of Sept. 30.
Officials acknowledged the numbers were not exact, saying that states and localities that reported the numbers have made mistakes.
In recent days, the Recovery Act board has been reviewing all the numbers, with many inaccurate ones having been posted. California’s San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission received $5 million in stimulus funds to hire workers to build addition train track for the Union Pacific Railroad in an economically tarnished spot of the Golden State.
Brian Schmidt, director of planning and programming for the commission said that his staff originally reported to the Obama administration that the stimulus money saved 250 jobs. Then, realizing they had mistakenly double credited, they later changed that to 125 jobs. Tuesday, they updated it again to 74 jobs.
Ed DeSeve, senior advisor to the president for Recovery Act implementation, said he’d been “scrubbing” the job estimates so much since they came it at the beginning of the month that he now has “dishpan hands and my fingers are worn to the nub.”
White House officials heralded the unparalleled transparency in reporting job numbers to the public, but acknowledged there is no consistent standard across states or localities, or among federal agencies giving out stimulus funds, in differentiating between a “saved” job and a “created” job.
The White House argues that the actual job number is actually larger than 640,000 — closer to 1 million jobs when one factors in stimulus jobs added in October and, more importantly, jobs created indirectly, such as “the waitress who’s still on the job,” Vice President Biden said today.
So let’s see. Assuming their number is right — 160 billion divided by 1 million. Does that mean the stimulus costs taxpayers $160,000 per job?
Jared Bernstein, chief economist and senior economic advisor to the vice president, called that “calculator abuse.”
Couldn’t do it, could you?