While campaigning for passage of his economic stimulus plan at the Caterpillar, Inc. plant in East Peoria, Illinois, yesterday President Barack Obama again claimed that “if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off.” But after the President had hopped back in his motorcade, ABC News asked Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens if what the President said was true: “I think realistically no. The truth is we’re going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again.” Owens is not the only one casting doubt on the Obama Administration’s audacious job creation numbers. The White House has already retreated from the “4 million jobs” number Obama repeatedly cited in his press conference this Monday and is now claiming the stimulus plan will create or save 3.5 million new jobs. But as the Washington Post details today, most other estimates are far below that number.

Global Insight estimates the plan will only create 2.5 million jobs and Macroeconomic Advisers puts the number at just 2.3 million. With some welcome humility, the Congressional Budget Office is only offering a range of job creation that stretches from 1.3 to 3.9 million. Even the Obama Adminstration’s favorite point man on economic forecasting, Mark Zandi, is projecting that the bill will only create 2.2 million jobs. But these estimates are all based off of different versions of the plan. The MA numbers are based of the original House bill. The GI numbers off the Senate’s $838 billion version. The CBO numbers of the Senate’s $887 billion version. The Post is not clear, but it appears that Zandi’s numbers are based on the current version of the bill that is scheduled to be voted on today. We’re glad he was able to get his hands on a detailed enough version of the bill to run his scientific projections, because the people who actually have to vote on the plan did not get the final text until 11 p.m. last night.

The House Democrats have previously promised that all conference reports would be made publicly available for 48 hours before consideration. Last night House Democrats voted to break that promise to the American people. Clocking in at 1419 pages, a Member of Congress would have to read 2.63 pages a minute without taking a break to read the whole bill before the House begins proceedings. Meanwhile, it appears that select lobbyists had final versions of the bill hours before our elected representatives did.

Federal lawmakers are not the only ones frustrated by the rushed and completely nontransparent process. In Idaho, Canyon County Commissioner Steve Rule tells the Los Angeles Times: “The answers that we’re getting are rather oblique. ‘We don’t know.’ That’s the part that’s frustrating for us. … We’re told to put our name on a list and see what comes out of Washington to the state and see what happens.” Democrat Dick Thompson, who is coordinating the state of Washington’s lobbying efforts, adds: “Anybody who thinks they can tell you definitively what’s going on is conning you.”

The more news that comes out about this stimulus bill, the less it makes sense. The Politico reports today that the projected local job creation numbers the White House is using to lobby for the bill simply do not add up. And the Wall Street Journal reports that federal agencies simply do not have the contracting manpower to manage what is a truly unprecedented explosion of government spending. The final version of the bill includes $8 billion in earmarked funding for a super train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The environmental impact studies alone will take more than five years to complete. Would it really be a ‘catastrophe‘ if all this long term spending were properly reviewed, debated, and voted on? Or maybe President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was speaking the truth when he said: “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.

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