Rep. Pence's "Absurd" Attack On The Recovery Act

July 15, 2010 11:36 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

Yesterday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report estimating that President Obama's stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has created or saved between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs. The number is an improvement from the last estimate in the first quarter of 2010.   

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) responded to the positive report in a statement, calling the White House claim "absurd" and emphasizing the unemployment rate:

The American people are hurting and the Obama Administration's new claims make a mockery of that pain. Today's White House report, which says the stimulus saved or created 2.5 million to 3.6 million jobs, is absurd. The facts speak for themselves: millions of jobs have been lost since the president's stimulus became law, unemployment is at 9.5 percent, exactly where it was a year ago, and Washington Democrats have no plan for job creation.

On Fox News this morning, Pence asserted that the stimulus bill has "failed." Pence also urged viewers to visit the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which supposedly disproves the White House report. Watch:

However, nothing Pence says actually contradicts the administration's claim; the confused congressman is comparing apples and oranges.  It is true, unfortunately, that 2.4 million net jobs have been lost since the Recovery Act was passed.  The upshot of the White House report is that the economy would have shed twice as many jobs without the stimulus.   

As the New York Times reported, the White House estimate is "in line with those of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and independent experts." In May, the CBO estimated that the Recovery Act has created up to 2.8 million jobs, lowered the unemployment rate by up to 1.5 percent, and increased GDP by up to 4.2 percent.

Republican lawmakers still want to have it both ways on the Recovery Act.  Earlier this week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), one of the most vocal critics of the bill, hosted a job fair with employers who received more than $52 million in stimulus funds.  When informed of the number, Cantor told Amanda Terkel, "I can't respond to that because I don't know whether your facts are straight." It was Cantor's third stimulus-funded job fair in the past year.