ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe and Rick Klein report: Amid the growing outcry about inaccuracies in the Obama administration’s claims of stimulus job growth, top Republican lawmakers today wrote to Vice President Joe Biden asking the administration to stop promoting jobs “saved or created” by the program, according to a letter exclusively obtained by ABC News.
“Following documented gross inaccuracies and confusion associated with the counting of job claims, we ask that the Administration cease public use of the inaccurate jobs ‘created or saved’ metric and instead focus efforts on lowering the unemployment rate,” House Minority Leader John Boehner and House Oversight Committee ranking member Darrell Issa say in the letter.
In their Oct. 30 report on the program, the administration announced that 640,000 jobs have so far been saved or created by stimulus funds — a number the White House says it continues to believe is accurate. But in recent weeks these claims have been damaged by numerous reports.
Last week, ABC News reported that hundreds of these jobs listed as saved or created were listed as coming from Congressional districts that don’t exist.
Before even releasing the Oct. 30 report, the administration decided to jettison more 60,000 jobs from its claims because of inaccurate data. Then, last Thursday, a government watchdog group found that more than 50,000 jobs included in the report stemmed from projects that reported spending no stimulus money yet.
In their letter to Biden, Boehner and Issa write, “The inaccuracy of the job creation and retention claims posted on the Administration’s website, www.recovery.gov, has not prevented Administration officials from touting this misleading and inaccurate number as evidence that the President’s stimulus spending package is succeeding even as the unemployment rate continues to rise. The reality is that the metric of jobs ‘created or saved’ was invented by politicians, not economists – it cannot be verified as accurate.”
The GOP lawmakers ask Biden to respond to their letter by Dec. 1, in advance of a jobs summit being held by the White House Dec. 3.
At a hearing last Thursday before the House Oversight panel, Issa suggested to Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Act Transparency & Accountability Board, that the administration be more upfront about the flaws in the stimulus reporting system.
“Shouldn’t we be more conservative and say, ‘Look, this is what the reports are. We’re scrubbing it. This is a new system. It has its problems. We hope at least they’re reporting the dollars right and we have no idea whether these people have the ability to calculate the full time jobs equivalent, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it.’ Wouldn’t that be a fairer way to put it?” Issa suggested.
“I like that statement,” Devaney replied.
The recent uproar over inaccuracies in stimulus reporting, Boehner and Issa tell Biden, has now become “a distraction” from efforts to address the nation’s unemployment rate, which currently sits at a 26-year high of 10.2 percent.
Citing that President Obama described the controversy over questions about stimulus job creation as “a side issue”, Boehner and Issa state, “We respectfully submit that the President is missing the point.”
“If the Administration is ready to send a signal that it seeks credible and bipartisan solutions to fix the economy, discontinuing deceptive accounting tricks and returning to tried and tested metrics of measuring economic growth is a good place to begin,” write Boehner and Issa.