Yesterday Vice President Joe Biden delivered the first quarterly report on the status of the Obama administration’s $787 billion program, claiming “significant progress has been made toward implementation.” The Associated Press’s Matt Apuzzo fact checks some of Biden’s claims:
THE WHITE HOUSE SAID: The stimulus has created or saved 150,000 jobs.
THE FACTS: Since February, the nation has lost more than 1.3 million jobs, according to the Department of Labor. To make the case that the country created jobs over that same stretch, the White House has put forward a benchmark of jobs created “or saved.” The argument is that the job numbers would have been even worse had it not been for the stimulus, and the difference between those numbers is a net positive.
To visualize that disconnect, consider this: The administration has promised to create or save 600,000 more jobs in the next 100 days. Even if the nation loses another 5 million jobs during that span (a highly unlikely prospect) the White House could still claim success. …
Spending money will put people to work. But spending has a cost. At some point, Washington will have to pay for this program, either by raising taxes or interest rates, and those policies typically hurt job growth. The Obama administration’s job data do not take into consideration this back-end cost, an omission some economists, particularly conservative economists, say is a flaw in the analysis.
BIDEN SAID: First-time homebuyers are “driving increased activity in the home sales market,” while mortgage and title companies are hiring more workers because of the first-time homebuyer tax credit included in the stimulus bill.
THE FACTS: The report cites anecdotes from a New Orleans business journal to back up the claim. It’s true, buyers are taking advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credits. The IRS said more than 567,000 tax returns claimed the credit in just the first weeks of the program. But that hasn’t provided an immediate turnaround in the market.
Since February, sales of existing homes have fallen 3 percent and new home sales are down .6 percent.
And the number of jobs in the real estate industry has declined by about 20,500, according to the Department of Labor.
There are signs that the housing market is improving. But the numbers suggest that if the market bottomed out, it did so in January, before the stimulus was passed.
BIDEN SAID: Employment agencies are placing more workers in jobs, and demand is up since February.
THE FACTS: The report cites an interview with an employment service manager quoted in the same New Orleans business article. The anecdote may be true, but it’s impossible to extrapolate that any further, even just to New Orleans. The city has lost more than 200 jobs since February. Overall, Louisiana lost 16,085 jobs over the same span, according to the Department of Labor.