Politicians love to make claims about how many jobs their proposals will create. As a practical matter, readers should immediately discount such assertions, since they are often based on guesstimates that are then extrapolated beyond reality. One good example of such a dubious claim is one made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in August about the Federal Aviation Administration funding bill, for which he earned Three Pinocchios.
But the current battle over the jobs bills is, of course, about jobs. President Obama has toured the country, making the case for his plan while frequently citing an estimate by one economist that nearly 2 million jobs would be saved or created. Bloomberg News surveyed 34 economists and came up with a decidedly smaller average – the plan would “add or keep 275,000 employees on payrolls.” Still, the economists concluded the president’s plan might help avoid a recession in the next year.
Senate Republicans, including Rand Paul (Ky.), John McCain (Ariz.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), last week unveiled what they labeled as their alternative to Obama’s plan. Their plan was mostly a mish-mash of previous offered bills, such as that hardy perennial--a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. (Some experts would argue that such a requirement could hurt employment if government spending dropped too quickly.)