Friday, September 11, 2009

CEA Reports A Million Stimulus Jobs So Far

In its first required report to Congress on the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the white House Council of Economic Advisors yesterday attributes over one million jobs have been saved or created thus far as a result of stimulus spending. Good news, I suppose, but because the economy has lost 2.5 million jobs since the legislation was signed in February, a lot of people are still hurting.

OMB Director Robert Nabors testified at a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing yesterday that a total of $300 billion in stimulus spending and tax relief has been "obligated" so far, meaning that bureaucrats have decided exactly where the cash will go. "Obligated" cash, however is not necessarily circulating in the real economy yet, and no one in government will say what the total of checks actually written thus far has been. Consider it is a whole order of magnitude or two less than the $300 billion obligated.

Chairman Joseph Lieberman told OMB it needs to spend the money faster, but to be particularly careful to protect against fraud and abuse. RAT Board Chairman Earl Devaney has suggested that taxpayers can expect up to 7% of the $787 billion stimulus, or a total of $55 billion, to be lost to waste, fraud and abuse. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz testified before Lieberman's committee that FTC and the Justice Department have already brought nearly 400 prosecutions against con artists who have promised victims, for a fee, to get stimulus grants for them. Improvements to the stimulus tracking web site are due out October 5, according to Devaney, but until we have seen the new version it is difficult to believe the public will experience any real transparency into where all this money is going.
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