Earlier this week, the conservative Weekly Standard started circulating an article claiming that the 2009 Recovery Act (i.e. the stimulus) cost $288,000 for every job it created and that the Obama administration’s own economic analysis of the Recovery Act shows that doing nothing over the last six months would have been preferable to continuing stimulus spending. These claims have quickly caught on with Republicans, who have uncritically tweeted and repeated them.
GOP 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Santorum hilariously botched his attempt at repeating the numbers, claiming that President Obama has created “only 240 million jobs” (which would mean that the labor force expanded by nearly 100 million people, solving the unemployment crisis). Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), another GOP presidential contender, did slightly better today during an interview on Fox, but still spread severe falsehoods regarding the stimulus and job creation:
BACHMANN: We found out last week that the average cost of a job was $278,000 for a government job under the stimulus and even the President’s own numbers say had the President done nothing we would have seen 288,000 jobs created this week. Instead, we’re losing jobs.
As TPM’s Brian Beutler pointed out, the claim that Obama’s own economic advisers found that the economy would be better absent the stimulus is a “fundamental misreading of the data“:
Over the past six months, and even before then, the stimulus has been winding down, and the fact that it’s now responsible for the existence of fewer jobs than it was six months ago is a function of that phase-out, and the (slowly) recovering economy, not of its inherent ineffectiveness.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press has rightly called the sort of math the Weekly Standard employed to manufacture its cost-per-job “highly misleading.” But that didn’t stop Bachmann from jumbling the two incorrect claims together into one mess of misinformation.
Plus, even though today’s jobs number was dismal, the economy is not losing jobs, as Bachmann claimed. In fact, tepid but continuing job creation in the private sector is being offset with job hemorrhaging within the public sector, making weak jobs numbers look disastrous. But this is exactly the sort of jobs trajectory that Republicans say they want.