Every time a report on the stimulus bill is released, one can almost hear the sound of ‘Yakety Sax’ playing in the background and the president’s team running around in frantic disarray.
It isn’t simply the absurdity of a recent Government Accountability Report (GAO), finding that each job ‘created’ by the stimulus bill costs an average of $194,213. It’s the fundamental shell game that the administration is playing with the public regarding the numbers, a game that can only be interpreted one of two ways – either the administration itself is inept in their reporting, or they assume the American people are too inept to catch on.
In fact, the jobs reporting has been such a muddled mess, that even liberal media stalwart, MSNBC, couldn’t keep track of their stories earlier in the year. On January 13th, they ran two stimulus related stories, one which touted the White House claim that the stimulus had saved two million jobs, and another which explained why calculating such a number is impossible.
Now however, the GAO report shows that the phrase ‘jobs created’ or ‘jobs saved’ is no longer the term of choice. They have decided to go with — wait for it — ‘lives touched’.
Essentially, we’ve now transitioned from the aforementioned terminology, on to ‘jobs funded’, and eventually landed on something reminiscent of an after school special, ‘lives touched’.
So what exactly defines a touched life?
A spokesperson from the CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company explains:
“Lives Touched” is a figure that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses to track the amount of people who have been positively affected by the Recovery Act funds. This total would include people who have been provided full time employment (i.e. saved and created jobs) through the Recovery Act and people who at some point have supported a project funded by the Recovery Act.
In other words, the administration has stumbled upon another way to inflate their job numbers. They were already reporting on those saved or created, but will now include ‘people who at some point have supported a project.’
Additionally, the significance of this coming from a CH2M spokesperson cannot be overstated. According to the Recovery.gov web site, the CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company is listed as having been awarded four of the top ten contracts from stimulus funds; contracts worth over $1.2 billion as of July 30th. The CH2M web site boasts of 4,547 ‘lives touched’ as of March, with only $471 million in contracts. The government web site, based on the four contracts over $1.2 billion, reports a grand total of 2,466 jobs funded. Meaning somehow, someway, the remaining $793 million is being used to touch the lives of 2,081 individuals. That’s $381,347 per touch.
This new accounting system being implemented by the DOE is essentially a cumulative analysis of all individuals who contribute anything to any given project. An overall headcount of sorts. According to reporting instructions for CH2M subcontractors, this constitutes the “total number of workers who have directly charged 1 or more hours of work time to a … contract”. One hour of work and your life has been touched.
Additionally, the report states that, “The lives touched headcount will remain the same or increase over time as new workers become involved with ARRA contracts. The total headcount will never decrease.”