The Job “Skinny” On The “Stim”

unemployedYesterday’s corporate media spin from Michael Gerson tells us the following (from here, with our dutiful right-wing scribe trying to create a metaphor between the stimulus and the Titanic)….

The jobs report last week opened a long gash beneath the waterline of President Obama’s legislative agenda. Few realize it, but a scramble for lifeboats is about to begin.

On closer inspection, the economic news, which seemed bad, is even worse. Not only did unemployment rise to 9.5 percent but wages fell, undermining the consumption needed to revive a consumption-driven economy. Unemployment increased among “breadwinners” — married men and women who head households — also making major family purchases more difficult. Recent increases in unemployment benefits and food stamps have helped many Americans pay for food and rent. Jobs, however, are what lead to the purchase of furniture, cars and homes. Paired with a decline in business investment, these trends make a second-half recovery less likely.

The stimulus package hasn’t been very stimulating — as many economists predicted. Pouring money into the economy through a thirsty sponge of federal programs — the preferred method of Congress — is slow and inefficient. In retrospect, all of the stimulus funds should have been given to individuals directly from the tap.

(“Many economists”…heh, heh.)

You know, it takes a particular kind of gall for a Dubya acolyte like Gerson to blame Obama for a rise in unemployment to 9.5 percent and a fall in wages when you consider the following from here, comparing Number 43 to his predecessor, with unemployment at 7.3 percent when Clinton took over from Bush 41 and ending at 4.2 percent when he left, whereas those figures were 4.2 percent when Dubya took over of course, but 6.5 percent and climbing when he left.

(The linked post above also tells us that real median income increased to almost $6K under Clinton but declined by about $1,200 under President Clueless – and yes, I would like to see better sourcing on those numbers also, but they sound right).

And it also takes a particular kind of gall for Gerson to criticize Obama on jobs overall, given that Gerson’s old boss was responsible for the lowest job growth in this country since World War II (here).

But as far as the number of “stim” jobs is concerned, this CNN story tells us the following…

The figure remains elusive, but Congress provided one of the first peeks this week by reporting that stimulus has funded 21,000 highway and transit jobs as of May 31.

The number, one of the first counts of actual stimulus-based employment, is based on state reports to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Thousands of indirect jobs — such as the deli employee who prepares lunch for the construction crew or the workers who produce the steel needed for projects — were also created or sustained.

The White House says the figure is in line with its projection that the $787 billion recovery act has created or saved 150,000 jobs in the administration’s first 100 days. The 150,000 number, which includes direct and indirect positions, is an estimate based on the amount of stimulus funds spent. Each $92,000 of stimulus funds spent translates into one job, according to the White House formula.

And yes, I know the 150,000 number is only a projection and we’re a long way off from that, and I’m a little hesitant to believe this number from Obama – 600,000 by the summer – but again, let’s give the man the benefit of the doubt for now (he hasn’t even been in office for six full months yet, OK?).

And here is another consideration as noted in this front page New York Times story today, and that is the fact that the states have doled out a disproportionate amount of job-creating “stim” funds for road work to less populated areas (where it will do less good) than to cities.

Also, this story in Time Magazine from last month tells us of people who obtained “stim” jobs, including Christian Zimmerman (on track to hire 135 workers for his construction company), John Berger (whose company makes homes more energy-efficient, on track to hire about 300), and Francis Jamiel, who was able to restock his shoe store with “stim” money which has led to a doubling of sales (and this story, although it takes a dim view of the “stim,” nonetheless provides information on how to look for “stim” jobs).

Finally, this post from Brent Budowsky over at The Hill reminds us that Gerson is cleverer than most (I’ll give him that much) in criticizing Obama on the economy, compared to more rabid GOP partisans such as Ron Christie, John Feehery and Cheri Jacobus who are a lot more open in wishing for a GOP rebound of sorts against a backdrop of further job losses.

To return to the “sinking ship” metaphor, if this is the only “solution” the Party of No truly has to offer, then they’re “taking on more water” than I thought.

Update 7/12/09: Here’s more Fix Noise propaganda on Dubya and jobs.

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