What jobs?

The Obama administration had been enduring some mockery for using a nebulous and made-up phrase as it referred to jobs “saved or created” by its $787 billion borrow-and-spend stimulus program.

So it has simply gotten rid of the distinction.

In a little-noticed Dec. 18 memo from Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, the Obama administration is changing the way stimulus jobs are counted.

Under the new approach, if a job is being funded with stimulus dollars — even if the person worked at that company or organization before and will work the same place afterward — that’s now a “stimulus job.”

The new bookkeeping trick was apparently deemed necessary to disguise the fact that Mr. Obama’s ballyhooed “stimulus” spending has accomplished nothing except to save the existing jobs of government bureaucrats and contractors. The federal spending surge of more than $20 billion for roads and bridges, funded by President Obama’s stimulus bill, for example, “has had no effect on local unemployment rates, raising questions about his argument for billions more to address an ‘urgent need to accelerate job growth,’ ” The Associated Press reported Monday.

Here in Nevada, unemployment surged from 10.1 percent last February, when the stimulus bill passed, to a record 13.3 percent in August, even as $201 million in federal road funding began streaming into the state. Meantime, the number of construction jobs in Nevada continued to drop, from 90,000 last February to 82,500 in November, the latest month for which the state has compiled statistics.

Officials with the Nevada Department of Transportation called the stimulus funding “a shot in the arm,” but the number of jobs they contend the stimulus funds generated — peaking at 549 in October and dropping to 349 in November — is dwarfed by the 50,000 construction jobs contractors have slashed here since the recession began in late 2007.

“My bottom line is, I’d be skeptical about putting too much more money into a second stimulus until we’ve seen broader effects from the first stimulus,” comments Aaron Jackson, a Bentley University economist who reviewed AP’s analysis.

As a job creation measure, the GOP has recently called for a variety of corporate and individual tax reductions to keep money in the job-creating private sector rather than in the hands of federal bureaucrats.

The Republican alternative can be faulted for its modesty, but at least it’s stuff that’s worked before. Ronald Reagan, anyone?

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