AP: Stimulus jobs overstated by thousands

You don’t say.

WASHINGTON (AP) – An early progress report on President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan overstates by thousands the number of jobs created or saved through the stimulus program, a mistake that White House officials promise will be corrected in future reports.

The government’s first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, according to an Associated Press review of a sample of stimulus contracts.

The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.

For example:

_ A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.

_ A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.

_ A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.

There’s no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report. But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president’s promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year.

The reporting problem could be magnified Friday when a much larger round of reports is expected to show hundreds of thousands of jobs repairing public housing, building schools, repaving highways and keeping teachers on local payrolls.

The White House says it is aware there are problems. In an interview, Ed DeSeve, an Obama adviser helping to oversee the stimulus program, said agencies have been working with businesses that received the money to correct mistakes. Other errors discovered by the public also will be corrected, he said.

“If there’s an error that was made, let’s get it fixed,” DeSeve said.

The White House released a statement early Thursday that it said laid out the “real facts” about how jobs were counted in the stimulus data distributed two weeks ago. It said that had been a test run of a small subset of data that had been subjected only to three days of reviews, that it had already corrected “virtually all” the mistakes identified by the AP and that the discovery of mistakes “does not provide a statistically significant indication of the quality of the full reporting that will come on Friday.”

The data partially reviewed by the AP for errors included all the data presently available, representing all known federal contracts awarded to businesses under the stimulus program. The figures being released Friday include different categories of stimulus spending by state governments, housing authorities, nonprofit groups and other organizations.

As of early Thursday, on its recovery.org Web site, the government was still citing 30,383 as the actual number of jobs linked so far to stimulus spending, despite the mistakes the White House has now acknowledged and said were being corrected.

It’s not clear just how far off the 30,000 claim was. The AP’s review was not an exhaustive accounting of all 9,000 contracts, but homed in on the most obvious cases where there were indications of duplications or misinterpretations. Keep reading.

Fuzzy math.

Obama’s ObamaCare Speech

I don’t have a full text yet, but his plan includes forcing Americans to purchase insurance, creates an “exchange” and preserves the public option. (I think).

More updates and text coming.

Update #1:

Full text here.

I noticed this retooling of the “you can keep your doctor and health and insurance if you like it” lie.  Now he says this:

“Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”

Nothing requires you to change what you have.  But nothing is stopping your employer from dumping your plan and forcing you onto the public option.

Nothing but nuance, kids.

Update #2 – “He’s dropped the period.”

AP noticed the change in phrasing the uninsured number in this fact check:

WASHINGTON – The change was subtle, but significant. In his speech to Congress on Wednesday night, President Barack Obama gave a more accurate — and less reassuring — account of the impact of his proposed health care overall than he has done in the past. It went by in a blink.

He told Americans that nothing he is proposing will force businesses or consumers to change their existing insurance coverage. That much is true.

It’s also true that nothing in his plan guarantees that policies people have now will continue to be available in the same form. In earlier accounts, he spoke with unmerited certainty in saying people who are happy with their current insurance can simply keep it.

Other parts of his speech repeated some of the oversimplified claims that have marked his salesmanship. A look at some of his assertions Wednesday night:

OBAMA: “Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”

THE FACTS: That’s correct, as far as it goes. But neither can the plan guarantee that people can keep their current coverage. Employers sponsor coverage for most families, and they’d be free to change their health plans in ways that workers may not like, or drop insurance altogether. The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the health care bill written by House Democrats and said that by 2016 some 3 million people who now have employer-based care would lose it because their employers would decide to stop offering it.

In the past Obama repeatedly said, “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” Now he’s stopping short of that unconditional guarantee by saying nothing in the plan “requires” any change.

He’s dropped the “period.”