June 9, 2009

Finally, Someone In The Establishment Press Calls Out Obama’s ‘Created and Saved’ Jobs Baloney

(I know; it almost doesn’t count, because it’s in the lefty-despised Wall Street Journal Opinion section.)

As yours truly noted a month after the presidential election (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Barack Obama’s handlers and his teleprompter began telling the president-elect to begin using variations on the term “create and/or save” in speeches about jobs and the economy within days of his electoral victory. During the campaign, I found no example of where Obama used any variation on that phrase; it was always “we will create X number of jobs.”

Until now, no one in the press of note has paid any attention to this “clever” abandonment of logic and accountability. After all, by the new “create and/or save” non-logic, Dear Leader has “saved” over 130 million jobs since his inauguration — even though, on a seasonally adjusted basis, almost 2.2 million Americans lost theirs from February through May:

BLSseasAdjJobChanges0107to0509

Finally, someone in the establishment media has done a serious call-out of Team Obama’s risible ruse. Here are excerpts from William McGurn’s hard-hitting column in today’s Wall Street Journal:

The Media Fall for Phony ‘Jobs’ Claims
The Obama Numbers Are Pure Fiction.

….. “Saved or created” has become the signature phrase for Barack Obama as he describes what his stimulus is doing for American jobs. His latest invocation came yesterday, when the president declared that the stimulus had already saved or created at least 150,000 American jobs — and announced he was ramping up some of the stimulus spending so he could “save or create” an additional 600,000 jobs this summer. These numbers come in the context of an earlier Obama promise that his recovery plan will “save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years.”

….. “We would never have used a formula like ‘save or create,’” he former Bush administration communications team member Tony Fratto) tells me. “To begin with, the number is pure fiction — the administration has no way to measure how many jobs are actually being ‘saved.’ And if we had tried to use something this flimsy, the press would never have let us get away with it.”

Of course, the inability to measure Mr. Obama’s jobs formula is part of its attraction. Never mind that no one — not the Labor Department, not the Treasury, not the Bureau of Labor Statistics — actually measures “jobs saved.” As the New York Times delicately reports, Mr. Obama’s jobs claims are “based on macroeconomic estimates, not an actual counting of jobs.” Nice work if you can get away with it.

And get away with it he has. However dubious it may be as an economic measure, as a political formula “save or create” allows the president to invoke numbers that convey an illusion of precision.

…. Now, something’s wrong when the president invokes a formula that makes it impossible for him to be wrong and it goes largely unchallenged. It’s true that almost any government spending will create some jobs and save others. But as Milton Friedman once pointed out, that doesn’t tell you much: The government, after all, can create jobs by hiring people to dig holes and fill them in.

If the “saved or created” formula looks brilliant, it’s only because Mr. Obama and his team are not being called on their claims. And don’t expect much to change. So long as the news continues to repeat the administration’s line that the stimulus has already “saved or created” 150,000 jobs over a time period when the U.S. economy suffered an overall job loss 10 times that number, the White House would be insane to give up a formula that allows them to spin job losses into jobs saved.

“You would think that any self-respecting White House press corps would show some of the same skepticism toward President Obama’s jobs claims that they did toward President Bush’s tax cuts,” says Mr. Fratto. “But I’m still waiting.”

So am I.

How much higher does the unemployment rate have to go before Team Obama’s apparatchiks at the Associated Press, the New York Times, and elsewhere — who, as noted, rightly would never have let the Bush administration get away with a similar move — stop repeating the President’s patently obvious “created and/or saved” nonsense without challenging it?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

God Bless Lou Pritchett

The former P&G Vice President and now “change agent” in the real world recently sent a letter to the NY Times that wasn’t printed or published online (to be clear, even though bandwidth is cheap, that failure in and of itself is not an outrage).

Apparently he was determined that his sentiments be heard. Though I don’t agree with him on every point, he has more than enough good ones that I am pleased to assist in that effort (copies are also here and here):

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
By Lou Pritchett

Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don’t understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class’, always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America’ crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer ‘wind mills’ to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use ‘extortion’ tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O’Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

Lou Pritchett

Note: Lou Pritchett is a former vice president of Procter & Gamble whose career at that company spanned 36 years before his retirement in 1989, and he is the author of the 1995 business book, Stop Paddling & Start Rocking the Boat.

Rasmussen: GM’s Market Share Is Poised to Dive Further

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:10 am

Yours truly wrote this at PJM on January 7, mirrored here on January 9:

If it becomes clear in Washington that consumers have shut their wallets on GM and Chrysler, that bailout effort will be forced to an ignominious end. It will send the two companies into bankruptcy, where they can figure out how to emerge as viable, baggage-free entities.

Well, I was right and wrong.

As predicted, enough consumers to make a difference have shut their wallets on GM and Chrysler. Many have reopened them to Ford.

As predicted, despite a total of roughly $30 billion in taxpayer money (with much more to be dumped in shortly), enough consumers to make a difference forced the ignominious end known as bankruptcy on each company.

Sadly, the Obama administration has engineered exits from bankruptcy that, even if they occur (Chrysler is not yet a done deal, as yesterday’s news shows), are anything but baggage-free.

A new Rasmussen poll, if accurate, tells us that barring a major psychological shift, these exits will be in deep trouble coming out of the gate:

Just 42% of GM Owners Likely to Buy GM Again

Only 42% of those who currently own a General Motors car are even somewhat likely to buy a GM product for their next car. That figure includes just 30% who are Very Likely to do so.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 43% of current GM owners are not likely to buy another GM car, while 16% are not sure.

….. Overall, among all adults, 16% say they are Very Likely to buy their next car from GM. That figure is slightly below the auto giant’s current share of the domestic auto market.

Another 10% of all adults are somewhat likely to buy from GM while 60% are not likely to do so.

The government bailout and takeover of General Motors remains very unpopular among the public. Just 26% of Americans believe the bailout was a good idea, and nearly as many support a boycott of GM products.

It looks like Rasmussen has reduced GM’s official market share of 19%-20% by taking out Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer — which is a correct and very astute catch.

The first bolded paragraph wipes out the significance of the second. That because the company has lost all but 42% of its customers. That would lead you to conclude that only about 6.7% of the 16% who claim they will likely buy a GM car represents current GM customers who will stay loyal (16% market share times 42%). (Update: Zheesh — I cut and forgot to paste a sentence saying that the % is more like 8% or so, because some of GM’s now-former buyers have already made their presence felt in the sales numbers during the last five months.)

The point is that just to maintain its market share, over about half of GM’s buyers coming out of bankruptcy will have to be new customers. Rasmussen says they are potentially there (if they mean what they’re saying), but they will still need to be won over and turned into closed deals. Anyone in sales knows that this is no easy task.

Then add in the following financial negatives: at least 60-90 days of significantly reduced advertising, which has already occurred during Chrysler’s bankruptcy, reducing the company’s consumer visibility and mindshare at the worst possible time; more car czar meddling and micromanagement; political cave-ins; and the Obama administration’s hostility towards light trucks, which make up well over half of the vehicles GM sells. Yikes.

And of course, GM’s competitors aren’t asleep. Ford, which itself foolishly sustained a two-year boycott by a pro-family organization until March of last year that probably cost it $1 billion or more, is now a bigger company than GM, is increasing production (i.e., isn’t sitting on months of unsold inventory), and is probably lengthening its lead on a daily basis. The Japanese transplants have stumbled a bit, but I don’t expect that to last.

So remind me: What are we getting for our tens of billions in bailout money?