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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Would $850,000,000.00 per job rescued make the “stimulus” worth it?

Given his penchant for “misremembering” conversations (and for apparently misreading people entirely despite years of close contact — see Exhibit A, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for an example), we can’t be sure that President Obama is even accurately recounting what Caterpillar CEO James Owens said to him in their conversation. However, here‘s what he seems to think went on:

President Barack Obama says Caterpillar’s chief executive has told him the company will rehire some laid-off workers if the stimulus bill passes.

The heavy equipment maker announced more than 22,000 job cuts last month as it scales back production amid the economic slowdown. …

Obama said Caterpillar’s CEO has told him that if the stimulus bill passes he would be able to rehire some of those employees.

Obama is to speak with some of those workers on Thursday when he visits a Caterpillar manufacturing plant in Peoria, Ill.

As I said, all we have to go with on this is President Obama’s word and the AP’s reporting — two things that haven’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt recently. Further, the AP reporter couldn’t even be bothered to include the name of “Caterpillar’s CEO,” suggesting that President Obama couldn’t be bothered to remember it, nor to include it in his recounting of the conversation that the AP reported.

Regardless, the fact is Obama supporters will likely look at this claim — If the “stimulus” passes people will get their jobs back! — as proof the borrow-and-spend bill is sound policy that is bound to be successful in pushing America back in the direction of full employment.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing of the sort to be pulled from this, even if President Obama’s recounting is to be taken at face value. “If the stimulus bill passes [Caterpillar] would be able to rehire some of those employees” who were laid off, Obama claims. How many is “some” in this case? 100? 500? 1,000? If the highest of those numbers — 1,000 — were actually accurate, then would we consider that worth the cost of the “stimulus” that led to it, give that those jobs — which were reinstated, not newly created — would have cost us $850 million each to obtain?

President Obama needs a whole lot more than a vague, uncorroborated story about one person maybe being able to hire “some” people back if this stimulus passes in order to make an even remotely convincing case for the borrow-and-spend package — something he has utterly failed to do so far.

However, given Obama’s penchant for long on generality and dubious anecdote, short on detail and fact presentation and speechifying, I have very little faith that we will be getting anything like that from him in the near future.

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