Study Said Stimulus Cost
Taxpayers $278,000 Per Job
Published July 05, 2011. Fox News. The White House on Tuesday sharply
disputed a report that uses data from President Obama's economic
advisers to claim that jobs created or saved by the stimulus bill cost
taxpayers $278,000 each.
The report released by the president's Council of Economic Advisers late
Friday ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend estimated the Recovery Act
saved or created between 2.4 million and 3.6 million jobs by the end of
March 2011. Spending equaled $666 billion by that time.
"That's a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job," according to the
Weekly Standard, a Washington, D.C.-based magazine. "In other words, the
government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose
employment was allegedly made possible by the 'stimulus,' and taxpayers
would have come out $427 billion ahead."
But the White House said that study is based on "partial information and
"The Recovery Act was more than a measure to create and save jobs; it
was also an investment in American infrastructure, education and
industries that are critical to America's long-term success and
investment in the economic future of America's working families," White
House spokeswoman Liz Oxhorn said in a statement to FoxNews.com.
"The nonpartisan CBO has confirmed that the Recovery Act delivered as
promised, lowering the unemployment rate by as much as 2 percent,
boosting GDP by as much as 4 percent and creating and saving as many as
3.6 million jobs," she said.
A White House official told Fox News that the stimulus didn't just fund
salaries, it also went to pay for infrastructure such as construction
materials and new factories, which are in addition to salaries.
"It's essentially saying part of the cost of a factory construction job
is part of the factory itself, but investments like factories have a
lasting and larger economic impact beyond just the initial job count,"
the official said.
The official added that the Weekly Standard cited a 2.4 million job
figure instead of the 2.4 million to 3.6 million jobs listed in the
White House report.
Republican lawmakers say the unemployment rate is the real figure to
watch. While it was 7.3 percent when the stimulus was enacted, it's now
9.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"If you look at unemployment, unemployment has gone up by 1.9 million
Americans. The unemployment rate has gone up 17 percent since the
president took office," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said last week. "So this
is not like a situation where you said, 'I inherited a bad economy, but
I'm gradually making it better.' He's making it worse."
The Weekly Standard noted that the national debt at the end of 2008,
when Obama was preparing for his presidency, was $9.986 trillion, but
it's currently $14.467 trillion.
Ethan Pollack, a senior policy analyst with the progressive Economic
Policy Institute, told FoxNews.com that the comparison between dollars
spent and jobs created or saved shouldn't be made because "it's a silly
way of looking" at the stimulus.
"I think it obscures more than it reveals," Pollack said. For example,
it is common for employers to cut hours during a recession and increase
them during a recovery instead of cutting or adding jobs, which isn't
reflected in those calculations, he said.
Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities who served as a member of the White House economic
team until May, told FoxNews.com, that the actual cost per job is below
$100,000 when all factors, including jobs that lasted only one year, are
He said the Weekly Standard compares cumulative spending with a snapshot
of jobs created. "You have to be consistent," he said.
David Cote, CEO of Honeywell, told Fox News that the stimulus plan did
more than just create jobs, it helped restore confidence in the business
"I would say I have never seen such fear in the business community as I
did at that time," Cote said. Everybody panicked. .... I liken that a
herd was running off the cliff and you had to fire a shot. You might
have killed a cow in the process or someone said it could have gone this
way, but you had to stop the herd from running off the cliff."
Fox News' Mike Emanuel
contributed to this report.