President Obama confidently declared yesterday that the stimulus plan had already “saved or created” 150,000 American jobs and would “save or create” another 600,000 by this summer. Which is pretty surprising, former Bush official William McGurn writes in the Wall Street Journal, because the economy’s lost nearly 1.6 million jobs since the stimulus passed. But that’s the magic of the “saved or created” metric, which doesn’t actually measure anything.
“The number is pure fiction,” complains fellow former Bush hand Tony Fratto. “If we had tried to use something this flimsy, the press would never have let us get away with it.” Obama has no way of counting how many jobs have been “saved”—the figure is based on macroeconomic estimates. As Democrat Max Baucus observed when grilling Tim Geithner, “You created a situation where you cannot be wrong.”