Fox News Perpetuates A Series Of Debunked Recovery Act Myths

Fox News has a history of deriding and distorting the economic recovery act (the stimulus package), not only by making outlandish claims about its effectiveness, but by allowing guests to uncritically air their own favorite falsehoods about the bill. Today, during Fox and Friends, Fox’s Steve Doocy went for the double-whammy, as both he and his guests (a panel of Republican and Democratic strategists) perpetuated a series of debunked myths about the recovery act, including that it only created or saved government jobs, cost hundreds of thousands per job saved, and didn’t help with underemployment. Watch it:

Let’s unpack these one by one.

MYTH: The recovery act only created government jobs. — The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 290,000 jobs were created in April, 230,000 of which were in the private sector. More than half a million private sector jobs have been created in 2010 alone. April saw the strongest job growth in manufacturing since 1998, and the manufacturing sector has expanded for 10 straight months.

MYTH: The recovery act costs hundreds of thousands per job. — This derives from a tactic that Republicans relied on early in the stimulus debate, which involves crudely dividing the spending portion of the bill by the total jobs created. The Associated Press has called such “grade-school arithmetic” “satisfyingly simple but highly misleading,” as it doesn’t take into account any of the effects of the tax cuts in the stimulus (which spur demand) or that “cost-per-job figure pays not just for the worker, but for material, supplies and that worker’s output.” It also assumes that all hiring for a contract lasting months or even years is already done.

MYTH: The recovery didn’t help alleviate underemployment. — An underemployed worker is a worker who wants to be working full-time but can only find part-time work. According to the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the recovery act increased the number of full time equivalent positions (FTEs) between 1.8 and 4.1 million. FTEs incorporate jobs that went from part-time to full-time or that added overtime hours.

Fox’s gang even managed to distort the only concrete example of a stimulus project that it cited — construction on the Brooklyn Bridge — as the data comes “from a report that was released before the project really got underway.”

According to the CBO, the recovery act has raised GDP by between 1.7 and 4 percentage points, lowered the unemployment rate by 1.5 percentage points, and created up to 2.8 million jobs, which is 250,000 to 500,000 more jobs than was initially projected for this point in time. CBO estimates that the stimulus will be responsible for up to 3.7 million jobs by September. As National Journal has pointed out, “if the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency.”