WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2010 -- With a sluggish economy and an electorate disgusted with Washington, it's no surprise that the president's $862 billion economic stimulus program has emerged as a central campaign issue. Republicans attack it. Democrats defend it. And both make bogus claims about its impact.
First, the Republicans.
GOP hero Scott Brown set the tone after he captured Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat in January.
"In Massachusetts, it hasn't created one new job and throughout the country as well. It may have retained some, but it hasn't created any new jobs," Brown told reporters at his first press conference as a U.S. Senator. "The last stimulus bill didn't create one new job."
More recently, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott in Florida declared, "The stimulus has not created one private sector job." And Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate for Senate in Florida, attacks the stimulus in a TV ad saying, "The only thing missing is jobs."
Did the stimulus create no jobs?
In a word: no.
It's actually a ridiculous claim. Just drop by one of the 14,062 highway construction projects now funded by the stimulus. According to the Department of Transportation, these projects have directly funded 61,940 jobs. And that's just one relatively small slice of the stimulus pie.
As the campaign hits the final stretch, some Republicans are claiming the stimulus has actually caused job loss.
For example: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the Chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, said the stimulus program "created" unemployment.
"The stimulus was excessive spending that did not meet the intended targets or consequences and was the wrong thing to do and has created not only unemployment, but the big circumstance with the debt that we're dealing with," Sessions said last week on the ABC News program Top Line.
The stimulus's $862 billion price tag certainly added to the national debt, but create unemployment?
In a recent debate, Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell went so far as to say the stimulus "cost us 2.6 million jobs."