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Why Obama Is Getting No Credit for the Stimulus

Clearly, if you talk to any nonpartisan economist, the stimulus did prevent the U.S. recession from turning into a full-blown depression. Moody’s, not exactly partisan, estimates it has added 1.6 to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, believes that estimate is conservative.

Yet the Obama White House gets no credit. Republicans are winning the war of the words, claiming it was a colossal waste of time. They are dissing it even as their own congressional districts benefit from the investment. And they are getting away with it.

Why?

Added jobs were jobs saved

When you look at the top four projects in terms of cost: they were education grants to the largest states in the nation: $4.4 billion to California, $2.2 billion to Texas, $1.65 billion to New York and $1.5 billion to Florida. That spending literally saved thousands of teaching jobs, especially in Florida (13,197 jobs were saved), New York (18,604 jobs were saved) and California (53,391 jobs were saved).

The Associated Pressreport was misleading

Last month, The Associated Pressreported the “unemployment rate” was unchangedby the various spending projects of the stimulus package, without really clarifying the depth of the recession simply absorbed the progress.

"There seems to me to be very little evidence that it's making a difference," said Todd Steen, an economics professor at Michigan's Hope College who reviewed the AP analysis.

That criticism, in addition to Republican push-back, lit up the front pages of many newspapers across the country. Though while it is true, it was misleading. Once again, the costly education grants saved teaching jobs as opposed to creating new ones, so those teachers would not be reflected in unemployment data.

If you look at the fifth and sixth most expensive projects in the stimulus bill which were Department of Energy contracts in Richland, Wa. and Aikan, S.C., those contracts went to national companies. The South Carolina contract was awarded to Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.

The workers needed for this massive nuclear site deactivation and cleanup are not necessarily coming from Aikan or South Carolina for that matter. Savannah River hired hundreds to do this work, but the workers came from across the country and from across various sectors, and they were in specialized fields -- some of whom were underemployed as opposed to unemployed. So once again, these jobs are not going to put a dent in local or statewide unemployment numbers which is how the AP analysis quantified the stimulus. Similar is true for the Richland, Wa. project.

The other measure they looked at was the construction sector. But here’s the problem with trying to analyze that: the majority of construction sector workers, especially commercial construction, are independent contractors. Most construction workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits and therefore they, too, are not counted in the unemployment rates.

Proving a negative

The other reason Obama's not getting any credit for salvaging our sinking economy is that it's difficult to prove a negative. A year ago, we were losing jobs at a record clip, hundreds of thousands by the month. Now, we are losing fewer, much fewer. But we are not yet adding jobs. So the White House is stuck with the message, “It could have been worse” as opposed to things are much better now.

“For President Barack Obama, whose poll numbers have dropped precipitously from around 65 percent to around 50 percent as Americans have become worried about government spending and health care reform, that should be good news... the fact that it's working should be a vindication,” Massimo Calabresi wrote inTime magazine.

“But it's not that easy. Recent polls show widespread disapproval of the stimulus bill... If anything, it seems the stimulus plan is hurting the president even as it helps the country.”

The GOP’s superior message machine

Let’s face it, one of the most blatant problems is that the Republican party has the most popular cable outlet in the nation, FOX News, effectively working as its communication arm.

As long as the unemployment rate remains near 10 percent and families continue to struggle, the White House will remain vulnerable and subject to counterfactual reports coming out of FOX News and the GOP.

Here’s some of FOX News', fair and impartial stimulus coverage: None of which is either true, fair or impartial.

Obama's Stimulus Package Will Increase Unemployment

Millions in Stimulus Spending Being Doled Out for Questionable Jobs

Facts About Jobs and the Stimulus Program

And there’s more, much more. The truth is, Obama critics have a huge advantage. FOX News has an open door policy for anyone who has something negative to say about the president and they don’t discriminate when it comes to the truth.

Their opinion shows and "news" programming go after the president daily. They tell folks he's a racist, that he's leading the U.S. down a road towards socialism, that he's a fire-breathing liberal, that he created the deficit and the recession, that he's incompetent, that he surrounds himself with radicals and that he wants to indoctrinate your children, etc.

It's really no wonder the president doesn't and isn't getting any credit for what he has done. He can barely get a word in edgewise.

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