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Flawed stimulus numbers -- or a flawed promise to provide them?

By Ed O'Keefe

By Alec MacGillis in The Post's 44 blog:

Another day, another flurry of outrage over the jobs numbers claimed by the government for the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus program.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) released a blistering statement Tuesday morning taking to task flawed data in the federal figures released on the stimulus tracking site recovery.gov Oct. 30 showing that $160 billion in spending had so far created or saved 640,000 jobs.

His shot came in response to two ABC News stories. The first reported that the administration deleted 60,000 jobs from a recovery.gov list after it became clear that the jobs figures were overstated. Then, on Monday, another news report revealed recovery.gov reports had claimed $761,420 in spending and 30 jobs created in Arizona's 15th congressional district -- a district that doesn't exist.

"The inaccuracies on recovery.gov that have come to light are outrageous and the Administration owes itself, the Congress, and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes," Obey said. "We designed the Recovery Act to be open and transparent and I expect the the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, who oversees the recovery act web site and data to have information that is accurate, reliable and understandable to the American public. Whether the numbers are good news or bad news, I want the honest numbers and I want them now."

But with every grenade from the media blowing a hole in the credibility of the jobs numbers, it may be worth asking whether the administration's problem comes less from the quality of the numbers being provided than from its decision to provide the numbers in the first place.

Continue reading on 44 >>>

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 17, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Tracking the Stimulus  
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