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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


"Saving or creating" jobs

President Obama has repeatedly referred to his plans to "create" millions of jobs (the exact number has varied, and of course depended on the actual bill that got through Congress). Here in December, for example, before the Inauguration, the headlines read "Obama outlines initiative to create 2.5 million jobs." By Jan. 10, MSNBC was headlining "Obama: Stimulus will create 4.1 million jobs," but if you read the actual quote, it wasn't quite that; Obama actually said that the plan "will likely save or create three to four million jobs." Save or create.

And there it was again in the speech last night: "over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs." Save or create.

Here's the thing. If employment goes up in the next two years, it will certainly be possible to quantify how many jobs have been created (although the reason will obviously be debatable). But quantifying how many jobs have been saved (i.e., how many jobs would have been lost had the stimulus not been passed) is entirely unknowable, which means that ascertaining whether 3.5 million jobs have been "saved or created" two years from now will be an utter impossibility.

No one has ever accused Obama of being dumb. Not me, anyway.

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