When Vice President Biden greeted a group of labor leaders two weeks after President Obama took office, he said, “Welcome back to the White House” — a not-so-oblique reference to their lack of access during the previous eight years under the Bush administration. Judging by the White House’s claims of having “created or saved 650,000 jobs” with the $787 billion economic stimulus program, it appears those labor leaders taught the administration a thing or two during their visit. How else to explain the obvious featherbedding by White House officials in tallying the job numbers released Friday?
Featherbedding occurs when paychecks are issued for nonexistent employees and the money goes directly into union coffers. Thousands of the jobs Obama officials say were saved or created by the stimulus program are no more real than those invisible positions invented by unions to bulk up their treasuries. We know this to be the case because as Obama’s chief economist, Christina Romer, admitted several weeks ago, “It’s very hard to say exactly because you don’t know what the baseline is, right, because you don’t know what the economy would have done without [the economic stimulus program].”
Even if we take at face value the White House claim that it created or saved all these jobs with approximately $150 billion of the economic stimulus money, a little simple math shows the taxpayers aren’t getting any bargains here: $150 billion divided by 650,000 jobs equals $230,000 per job saved or created. Instead of taking all that time required to write the 1,588-page stimulus bill, Congress could have passed a one-pager saying the first 650,000 jobless persons to report for work at the White House will receive a voucher worth $230,000 redeemable at the university, community college or trade school of their choice. That would have been enough for a degree plus a hefty down payment on a mortgage.
Actually, taxpayers would be better off with such a deal, too, compared with the reality of the Obama stimulus program. Among the top 10 stimulus contracts awarded, there is the one for nearly $339 million that allegedly created or saved 41.19 jobs, or about $8.3 million per position. It was even worse with the $258 million contract to Brookhaven Science Associates in New York, where 25 jobs were saved or created, at a cost of $10.3 million per position. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the ranking House minority member of the Joint Economic Committee, said it best: “What we know for certain is that 2.7 million payroll jobs have been lost since the Obama stimulus was signed into law, hundreds of thousands of more jobs are being lost each month, and America is so deep in debt, China and France are lecturing us to get our financial house in order.”