President Obama's claim that his economic stimulus plan has "saved or created" 150,000 jobs is all but meaningless, given a 9.4 percent unemployment rate.
Nobody can measure plausibly a "saved" job. The only saved jobs we can document in Philadelphia are at the Board of Revision of Taxes - and that has nothing to do with the stimulus bill.
But Democrats are touting the phony concept of "saved" jobs because they know it's impossible to disprove, too. It's a lame attempt to spin criticism that the federal recession-fighting plan isn't fighting the recession very effectively so far.
And it's insulting to the huge number of people still looking in vain for work while their unemployment benefits expire.
Since the president signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill on Feb. 17, about 1.6 million workers have lost their jobs. That's the number that really counts. And it's evidence that federal, state, and local officials aren't moving swiftly enough to put all that tax money to its best use.
Washington has spent $44 billion of the stimulus money so far - about 9 percent of the total that isn't going to tax cuts. The Obama administration initially projected that this effort would have lowered the jobless rate to 8 percent by now. Instead, the unemployment rate stands at a 25-year high.
Given the plan's unimpressive pace, the president convened a cabinet meeting this week to show his administration is serious about creating more jobs. For example, the Labor Department has a program ready to create 125,000 summer jobs for youth.
Great idea. But, memo to Labor: It's mid-June already. Time's a-wasting.
One project that did receive stimulus money already is - shock of shocks - that black hole of taxpayer dollars known as the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport. The monument to pork was built with nearly $200 million in tax money, courtesy of its powerful Democratic House patron.
The airport has almost no passengers, and only three flights a day, all of them to or from Washington. It also has an $8 million radar system, unused since it was installed five years ago.
Despite this record of waste, the airport received an additional $800,000 in the stimulus bill, to repave a backup runway. Just in case Rep. Murtha's ego arrives on a separate flight, apparently.
The stimulus bill does pay for many needed projects. You can see a list of projects at www. recovery.org, a site created by Seattle-based Onvia to track all stimulus spending. Pennsylvania to date has 715 projects costing more than $2 billion; New Jersey has 207 at a cost of more than $1.5 billion. They include road paving, bridge repairs, and other needed construction jobs.
But the Obama administration needs to improve its efforts to get the money more quickly to places where it will do the most good, rather than devoting its time to counting phantom statistics.