New York Times columnist Paul Krugman helpfully debunks (1/26/09) some of the more tendentious and misleading criticisms of the White House’s economic stimulus package. Here’s one such trope:
First, thereÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years.
ItÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost of that program over the next five years, then divide it by the number of lunches provided in just one of those years, and assert that the program was hugely wasteful, because it cost $13 per lunch. (The actual cost of a free school lunch, by the way, is $2.57.)
The true cost per job of the Obama plan will probably be closer to $100,000 than $275,000–and the net cost will be as little as $60,000 once you take into account the fact that a stronger economy means higher tax receipts.
Well, that’s refreshing; one only wishes that news articles in the same paper would challenge such spin instead of merely passing it along, as they did yesterday (courtesy of GOP Congressmember John Boehner):
Mr. Boehner cited numbers to counter Mr. Obama’s, saying the House Democratic plan included $600 million for the federal government to buy new cars, $650 million for digital television coupons and $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. “All told,” he said, “the plan would spend a whopping $275,000 in taxpayer dollars for every new job it aims to create.”