At least funny bones are being stimulated by the Obama Administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill.
To wit, how many Americans does it take to make nine pairs of work boots? According to the White House’s recovery.gov site, an $890 shoe order for the Army Corps of Engineers, courtesy of the stimulus package, created nine new jobs at Moore’s Shoes & Services in Campbellsville, Kentucky.
The job-for-a-boot plan may not be American productivity at its best. But such stories go a ways toward explaining how the Administration has come up with 640,329 jobs “created/saved” by the American Recovery Act as of October 30.
Jonathan Karl of ABC News deserves credit among Beltway reporters for committing journalism and actually fact-checking White House claims. Head Start in Augusta, Georgia claimed 317 jobs were created by a $790,000 grant. In reality, as Mr. Karl reported this week, the money went toward a one-off pay hike for 317 employees.
Other media outlets and government watchdog groups have also found numerous errors in the stimulus filings. Jobs have been overstated or counted multiple times. One Alabama housing authority claimed that a $540,071 grant would create 7,280 jobs. The Birmingham News reports that only 14 were created. In some cases, Recovery Act funds went to nonexistent Congressional districts, such as the 26th in Louisiana or the 12th in Virginia. Up to $6.4 billion went to imaginary places in America, according to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.
Asked by the New Orleans Times-Picayune why so many recipients would misstate their districts, Ed Pound, the director of communications for the Obama Administration’s recovery.gov, said, “Who knows, man, who really knows.”
The nonexistence of the jobs and places allegedly stimulated by the Recovery Act doesn’t necessarily mean the money was misspent or stolen. But it does indicate that the claims made on its behalf are a political illusion. The true jobs measure of an economic recovery is the unemployment rate, which rose to 10.2% last month. No matter how hard or imaginatively the Administration spins, the reality is that the stimulus has been the economic bust that critics predicted it would be.