(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:
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.