2012 GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum continued his long-shot campaign this morning with an appearance on CNN. During the interview, Santorum attempted to criticize the Obama administration’s record on jobs, but inadvertently revealed his complete ignorance regarding the American labor force.
Last Friday, the administration’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report showing the effects of the 2009 Recovery Act, which to date has raised employment by between 2.4 and 3.6 million jobs. Santorum cited the report while trying to attack the administration.
However, he completely bungled it: Santorum said the Obama administration claimed to have created 280 million jobs last December, and is now claiming to have created 240 million jobs, thus proving that the Recovery Act somehow destroyed jobs:
SANTORUM: [Obama] passed a huge stimulus package that now we know, over the past two quarters, has actually cost American jobs, and that’s from the report of his own administration. They claimed in December that, uh, by the end of last year that they created 280 million jobs, and now they’re saying that they created only 240 million jobs. So look, in this, you’re talking about huge increases in spending.
ALI VELSHI: Senator, I’m going to ask you to restate that, I’ve never heard that in my life. Tell me again, what you just said.
SANTORUM: If you look at the report that came out on Friday, the President’s own economic advisers said that the jobs stimulus package actually created fewer jobs over the period of time, since the uh, since the stimulus package went in place than it did when they reported back in December. In other words, there’s 30 million less jobs as a result of the stimulus package.
VELSHI: That’s not a loss of jobs, Senator, that’s a smaller aggregation of jobs. You can’t go on a campaign, a national campaign with this kind of math Senator. It’s just incorrect…I know you’ve got a lot of interviews to do. You might want to check that math.
Velshi is absolutely correct that Santorum needs to check his math, but he missed the huge problem with Santorum’s numbers. The entire American civilian labor force is about 153 million people. There are currently 13.9 million people unemployed. If the Obama administration had created 240 to 280 million jobs, the unemployment crisis would have been solved several times over, and America would have so many jobs that it would need to start employing workers from all over the world just to fill all the available positions.
Santorum was evidently trying to repeat this absurd claim made by the Weekly Standard about the cost per job of the stimulus. (The Associated Press has rightly called the sort of math the Weekly Standard used “highly misleading.”) However, his attack attempt totally backfired, and he gave the administration credit for engineering what would be the single greatest economic feat in American history.