A political shell game.

The $787 billion stimulus bill was supposed to kickstart the economy and create jobs. The government needs people to believe that it actually did that, even if it didn’t. Yet it seems so easy to debunk their estimates of jobs created or saved. From the Boston Globe:

Some of the errors are striking: The community action agency based in Greenfield reported 90 full-time jobs associated with the $245,000 it got for its preschool Head Start program. That averages out to just $2,700 per full-time job. The agency said it used the money to give roughly 150 staffers cost-of-living raises. The figure reported on the federal report was a mistake, a result of a staffer’s misunderstanding of the filing instructions, said executive director Jane Sanders.

Several other Head Start agencies also reported using stimulus funds for pay raises and claimed jobs for it.

At Bridgewater State, Baldwin said the college mistakenly counted part-time student jobs as full time.

Pay raises probably shouldn’t count as jobs created or saved. And the numbers are obviously incorrect anyway.

But if this is a brand new stimulus package, then why were existing funds reclassified as "stimulus funds" only to have existing jobs now recounted as jobs created?

In other cases, federal money that recipients already receive annually – subsidies for affordable housing, for example – was reclassified this year as stimulus spending, and the existing jobs already supported by those programs were credited to stimulus spending. Some of these recipients said they did not even know the money they were getting was classified as stimulus funds until September, when federal officials told them they had to file reports.

“There were no jobs created. It was just shuffling around of the funds,’’ said Susan Kelly, director of property management for Boston Land Co., which reported retaining 26 jobs with $2.7 million in rental subsidies for its affordable housing developments in Waltham. “It’s hard to figure out if you did the paperwork right. We never asked for this.’’

It seems that the stimulus package that had to be passed immediately or the sky would fall doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect, and it looks like the administration is grasping at any straw to claim success. So out of curiosity, what exactly would have happened if there was no stimulus bill? 10% unemployment?

Oh wait, we’re already there.

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