Obama 4 Million Jobs Created or Saved
Greg Mankiw is amused by President Obama’s statement that his stimulus plan should be judged on the basis of “creating or saving 4 million jobs.”
The expression “create or save,” which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius. You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus.
An actual answer to the question “What metric?” could have taken the form: “If the unemployment rate on [insert date] is below [insert threshold], I will judge the plan to be a success.” Given the uncertainties inherent in the economy, however, no sensible politician would hold himself to such a measurable standard. But the President also wanted to avoid sounding like he was avoiding accountability. So he gave us a non-measurable metric. A clear and specific benchmark, without any way of ever knowing whether it has been reached.
Glenn Reynolds snarks, “Unfalsifiable promises! A new kind of politics!”
Anyone who’s surprised by this raise your hand. Nobody? Good.
Oh, and as a public service to our readers, if you’re going to do a Google Images search for job, you should probably turn on “safe search.”