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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stimulus Job Count Regulations

Making it easier for the Obama Administration to fudge the numbers of jobs “saved or created” by the stimulus package, the White House has issued regulations granting the states substantial leeway in counting stimulus jobs, reports the Wall Street Journal:
All we're asking them to do is a simple headcount; tell us how many people you hired," said Rob Nabors, the deputy director of the [Office of Management and Budget], in an interview.

Recipients won't be asked to grapple with complicated estimates, he added. Instead, they may use their best guess whether a job would have been created or saved in the absence of a recovery plan, and to not count it if they are uncertain.

Philip Mattera, research director for the economic development research group Good Jobs First, said the method appeared to be "a bit impressionistic" and presented pitfalls. "One is the risk of unreasonable reporting; the other risk is how the whole system is perceived because of the possibility of unreasonable reporting," he said.

Craig Jennings, a senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan OMB Watch, also said the new guidance could allow state officials to use their own definition for the number of hours in a "full-time equivalent" job, thus making it possible to credit stimulus projects for more employment.

OMB officials said the method was the easiest and quickest way for recipients to give the required information, and that making the reports publicly available allowed anyone to question them.
So in the interest of "ease and quickness," the Administration is allowing states of offer their best guesstimate as far as how many people this massive government program is able to employ.

Moreover, these regulations further the argument that the Administration has created a situation, with regards to the job estimates, where they cannot be wrong.

If the states overestimate, it appears as though the stimulus has worked.

If the estimates come in low, the Administration can blame the "inaccurate or imperfect" procedures used by the states.

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