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CBO Clears Things Up

Courtesy of Bruce Krasting

Douglas Elmendorf, the Chief Honcho at the Congressional Budget Office has a blog. (Doesn’t everyone?) He uses his site to introduce/discuss new reports from the CBO. The reports are often long and tedious; Doug’s summaries are pretty good.

He had a post last week regarding the economic impact of ARRA, (09 stimulus). In his blog Elmendorf went out his way to defuse a political bomb. I doubt he was successful. We will hear more on this in the next two months.

The report touts the success of ARRA. The CBO made the following claim:

CBO estimates that in the second quarter of calendar year 2010, ARRA’s policies:

Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million

My first thought on this was that you could drive a truck through those estimates. But if you use a mid estimate of 3mm you would have to conclude that ARRA was a pretty big success. But then you read on:

CBO’s estimates differ substantially from the reports filed by recipients of ARRA funding. Those recipients reported that ARRA funded nearly 750,000 FTE jobs during the second quarter of 2010

Wait a minute. How many jobs were saved? Is it 750k or is it 4.8mm?

I happen to know a lady who runs a health center. Big one. On behalf of the clinic she applied for ARRA money and got it. They bought needed equipment and hired people to use it. The reporting requirements for the money were rigorous. She had to document the number of jobs created before during and after. Failure to do so meant money did not come.

Based on this I conclude that the reports from the ARRA recipients is very accurate. These are the numbers the White House collected. But Doug does not like the results. He just blows them off:

The law’s overall effects on employment requires a more comprehensive analysis than the recipients’ reports provide.

So there are hard numbers and there are soft numbers. To be fair, ARRA was much more than a jobs program. It funded unemployment benefits and some tax breaks. I can’t imagine how 4-5 million jobs get created from that.

If you are an “In” you can say that you were part of a Congress that passed legislation that saved nearly 5 million jobs. You can wave a CBO report to prove it.

If you are a “Wanna Be In” you can say that the “Ins” failed miserably. They spent $820 billion to create a lousy 750k jobs. That comes to $1,100,000 per job! And you can wave the Recipients of the ARRA Funding reports to prove it.

Ain’t America great….


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