On CNBC, Tony Fratto, former White House Spokesman for President Bush, has used the nice word — that would be “deception” — to say that Barack Obama is lying about his claims that his “stimulus” efforts saved any American jobs. Not only does Fratto devastate the administration’s claims to have saved jobs, but he rightfully points out that the lapdog media is letting Obama get away with the deceit.
Fratto calls the jobs-saved rhetoric a “breathtaking deception” and is aghast at the “gullibility of the Washington press corps” for reporting Obama’s claims with a straight face and an un-skeptical eye.
Oh, it isn’t that the numbers that Obama uses to make his claims are somewhat jiggured, but that the whole claim is impossible to figure all the way around and Obama’s economic team knows it, according to Fratto. The claim is simply a fiction, a fantasy, a claim made based on no numbers and no ability to find them.
Here’s an important note to my friends in the news media: the White House has absolutely no earthly clue how many job losses have been prevented because of the stimulus bill. None. Not Christina Romer. Not Jared Bernstein. Not Austen Goolsbee.
Each of these distinguished economists would have failed Statistics 101 for making such a laughable claim. But we see them now repeating these assertions to reporters who have seemingly abandoned all skepticism.
Fratto rightly points out that in the first place the so-called stimulus money (something that we all here know is no stimulus at all) has not even hit the real economy yet so calculating its effect now is impossible. But his second point is the crux of the matter. The Obama administration cannot possibly calculate this claim that any jobs are saved because it is an impossible task to calculate an accurate baseline that would measure what the employment level will be in the future with OR without the stimulus spending.
In fact, Fratto says, the government can’t even get a correct reading of jobs created in the past most of the time, much less the future.
You only need to know this: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – thousands of the most professional and rigorous counters and analyzers of labor data in the history of mankind – makes TWO revisions of employment data for their ESTIMATE of the PREVIOUS month! And even then the reports are mere estimates – an annual benchmark survey is required to reset the nation’s payroll baseline.
That is, the best employment statisticians the world has ever known, people whose lives are dedicated to employment data, conducting labor surveys and research, constantly refining their complex models, have a difficult time telling you how many jobs were created in the PAST!
So, if the government can’t even get labor stats from the past right, how can we expect them to get future predictions right? TV weathermen have better prediction records.
Fratto ends his piece with another jab at the compliant media:
If I — or even my predecessors in the Clinton Administration — had tried to pull off this ridiculous gimmick we would have been run out of town. I don’t even believe it’s possible to look back and accurately measure the “job-saving” impact of Bush or Clinton Administration policies, let alone to measure in real time, or project into the future.
On Friday the BLS will release its estimate of May job losses. They will also report their revisions for March and April. And White House officials will once again gear up the spin machine on how many jobs have been “saved.”
A self-respecting press corps would vigorously question the White House on their claims. We’ll see if we have one.
Just another example of a press corps that has been bought and sold by their messiah. Come on news media. Jake Tapper can’t do everything!