We can count our blessings. We can count sheep. We can count our chickens before they hatch. We can even count how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.
But we can't count the net employment impact of the President's stimulus spending.
The White House will be at it today with yet another report attempting to show the number of jobs "saved or created" resulting from President Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill.
I can imagine the White House communications shop checking and double-checking with jobs-counting staff to get the numbers right this time after the double-counting and error-plagued earlier reports. But I can't imagine a more useless exercise that completely misses the aims of an expensive stimulus bill.
No one disputes that if the federal government shovels largess to states and businesses, some jobs will be "saved" and some jobs will even be "created". And I'd be happy to concede whatever number of jobs the White House claims are directly attributable to the stimulus if the White House would be willing to honestly acknowledge that it has no clue what impact the stimulus has had on net employment — and how useless its number is from a macro-economic standpoint.
Let's pretend for the sake of argument that the White House's numbers are accurate (even as news organizations have demonstrated flaws in their accounting). The White House claims "hundreds of thousands of jobs" have been "saved or created".