Syndicated

The problem with Recovery.gov isn’t the data, it is the politics

The White House has gotten a black eye for two key problems with the Recovery.gov stimulus database. The first problem was that the numbers of jobs were bogus. The Washington Examiner has concluded that at least 10% of the jobs were fabrications. The second problem was that the data about congressional districts were clearly garbage.

But I am not here to rehash this. There is a legitimate problem with the data. But the data wouldn't be such a big deal if the White House hadn't tried to politicize the data and claim victory.

Recovery.gov is a tremendous success for the transparency movement. Politicians lie. A key goal of the transparency movement is to give the people the power to keep the politicians accountable. And that's what this has done.

Here's what happened: The White House shared the data and lied about what it showed. And the data has been used to hang them.

First, let's go to the stimulus bill itself. Congress demanded that the White House report jobs created or saved numbers:

(8) The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

But that legislative langauge says that "[t]he website shall provide a link to estimates" ... "by the Act". The bill doesn't require a per-contract or a per-district accounting of jobs.

So what's happening? The White House quickly learned that the stimulus bill was going to be a hot potato. So they started to use Recovery.gov to give them (and their Democratic allies in Congress -- recall no Republicans voted for this) cover.

Let's be clear what happened here: the White House politicized this data. And now they are getting hung with the politicization of it (not the bad data).

And this goes to the deeper point. Check out this story from the Washington Post from October 30th, the weekend before election day:

Reports to be released Friday on the government Web site Recovery.gov are expected to show that the $150 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package have created or saved about 650,000 jobs, White House officials said Friday morning.

White House officials said the reports -- which were filed by state and city governments and other recipients of stimulus grants and loans -- will confirm their recent estimates that the $787 billion package passed in February has so far saved or created about a million jobs, putting it on track to match their estimates of 3.5 million jobs created or saved over the three-year span of the stimulus. That calculation is based on the fact that today's reports do not include much of the package's spending -- tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to strapped states, which injected tens of billions more into the economy and, in the case of the state aid, forestalled layoffs of state workers.

The White House clearly leaked this information the weekend before election day to claim victory based on garbage data. Furthermore, they claimed that Recovery.gov confirmed their previous assessments, and didn't come to any new conclusions based on data. 

Fifteen days earlier, based on partial data, the White House also claimed victory based on incomplete data, using the same number. From the Hill's Walter Alarkon:

"All signs -- from private estimates to this fragmentary data -- point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

That same 1m had been their talking point for a while. In September the White House said:

This analysis indicates that the ARRA and other policy actions caused employment in August to be slightly more than 1 million jobs higher than it otherwise would have been.

In May, they said:

Our finding was that the ARRA would increase employment relative to the baseline in this quarter by approximately 3.5 million

Six months later, the White House was repeating these same numbers even though they had data to prove it false. That's the problem.

0
Your rating: None

By Soren Dayton, ago
Syndicated

The problem with Recovery.gov isn’t the data, it is the politics

The White House has gotten a black eye for two key problems with the Recovery.gov stimulus database. The first problem was that the numbers of jobs were bogus. The Washington Examiner has concluded that at least 10% of the jobs were fabrications. The second problem was that the data about congressional districts were clearly garbage.

But I am not here to rehash this. There is a legitimate problem with the data. But the data wouldn't be such a big deal if the White House hadn't tried to politicize the data and claim victory.

Recovery.gov is a tremendous success for the transparency movement. Politicians lie. A key goal of the transparency movement is to give the people the power to keep the politicians accountable. And that's what this has done.

Here's what happened: The White House shared the data and lied about what it showed. And the data has been used to hang them.

First, let's go to the stimulus bill itself. Congress demanded that the White House report jobs created or saved numbers:

(8) The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

But that legislative langauge says that "[t]he website shall provide a link to estimates" ... "by the Act". The bill doesn't require a per-contract or a per-district accounting of jobs.

So what's happening? The White House quickly learned that the stimulus bill was going to be a hot potato. So they started to use Recovery.gov to give them (and their Democratic allies in Congress -- recall no Republicans voted for this) cover.

Let's be clear what happened here: the White House politicized this data. And now they are getting hung with the politicization of it (not the bad data).

And this goes to the deeper point. Check out this story from the Washington Post from October 30th, the weekend before election day:

Reports to be released Friday on the government Web site Recovery.gov are expected to show that the $150 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package have created or saved about 650,000 jobs, White House officials said Friday morning.

White House officials said the reports -- which were filed by state and city governments and other recipients of stimulus grants and loans -- will confirm their recent estimates that the $787 billion package passed in February has so far saved or created about a million jobs, putting it on track to match their estimates of 3.5 million jobs created or saved over the three-year span of the stimulus. That calculation is based on the fact that today's reports do not include much of the package's spending -- tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to strapped states, which injected tens of billions more into the economy and, in the case of the state aid, forestalled layoffs of state workers.

The White House clearly leaked this information the weekend before election day to claim victory based on garbage data. Furthermore, they claimed that Recovery.gov confirmed their previous assessments, and didn't come to any new conclusions based on data. 

Fifteen days earlier, based on partial data, the White House also claimed victory based on incomplete data, using the same number. From the Hill's Walter Alarkon:

"All signs -- from private estimates to this fragmentary data -- point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

That same 1m had been their talking point for a while. In September the White House said:

This analysis indicates that the ARRA and other policy actions caused employment in August to be slightly more than 1 million jobs higher than it otherwise would have been.

In May, they said:

Our finding was that the ARRA would increase employment relative to the baseline in this quarter by approximately 3.5 million

Six months later, the White House was repeating these same numbers even though they had data to prove it false. That's the problem.

0
Your rating: None

By Soren Dayton, ago
Syndicated

The problem with Recovery.gov isn’t the data, it is the politics

The White House has gotten a black eye for two key problems with the Recovery.gov stimulus database. The first problem was that the numbers of jobs were bogus. The Washington Examiner has concluded that at least 10% of the jobs were fabrications. The second problem was that the data about congressional districts were clearly garbage.

But I am not here to rehash this. There is a legitimate problem with the data. But the data wouldn't be such a big deal if the White House hadn't tried to politicize the data and claim victory.

Recovery.gov is a tremendous success for the transparency movement. Politicians lie. A key goal of the transparency movement is to give the people the power to keep the politicians accountable. And that's what this has done.

Here's what happened: The White House shared the data and lied about what it showed. And the data has been used to hang them.

First, let's go to the stimulus bill itself. Congress demanded that the White House report jobs created or saved numbers:

(8) The website shall provide a link to estimates of the jobs sustained or created by the Act.

But that legislative langauge says that "[t]he website shall provide a link to estimates" ... "by the Act". The bill doesn't require a per-contract or a per-district accounting of jobs.

So what's happening? The White House quickly learned that the stimulus bill was going to be a hot potato. So they started to use Recovery.gov to give them (and their Democratic allies in Congress -- recall no Republicans voted for this) cover.

Let's be clear what happened here: the White House politicized this data. And now they are getting hung with the politicization of it (not the bad data).

And this goes to the deeper point. Check out this story from the Washington Post from October 30th, the weekend before election day:

Reports to be released Friday on the government Web site Recovery.gov are expected to show that the $150 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package have created or saved about 650,000 jobs, White House officials said Friday morning.

White House officials said the reports -- which were filed by state and city governments and other recipients of stimulus grants and loans -- will confirm their recent estimates that the $787 billion package passed in February has so far saved or created about a million jobs, putting it on track to match their estimates of 3.5 million jobs created or saved over the three-year span of the stimulus. That calculation is based on the fact that today's reports do not include much of the package's spending -- tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to strapped states, which injected tens of billions more into the economy and, in the case of the state aid, forestalled layoffs of state workers.

The White House clearly leaked this information the weekend before election day to claim victory based on garbage data. Furthermore, they claimed that Recovery.gov confirmed their previous assessments, and didn't come to any new conclusions based on data. 

Fifteen days earlier, based on partial data, the White House also claimed victory based on incomplete data, using the same number. From the Hill's Walter Alarkon:

"All signs -- from private estimates to this fragmentary data -- point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.

That same 1m had been their talking point for a while. In September the White House said:

This analysis indicates that the ARRA and other policy actions caused employment in August to be slightly more than 1 million jobs higher than it otherwise would have been.

In May, they said:

Our finding was that the ARRA would increase employment relative to the baseline in this quarter by approximately 3.5 million

Six months later, the White House was repeating these same numbers even though they had data to prove it false. That's the problem.

0
Your rating: None

By Soren Dayton, ago
Media

Boehner and Read the Bill: A sign that Congressional Republicans are starting to get it and the media isn’t

I have argued for a while that Repubicans need to pick up the mantle of transparency. It is useful tactically and strategically. On the tactical level, the guys in leadership always play "hide the ball with what they are doing". This gives Republicans a morally secure high-ground to attack whatever the Democrats do. Strategically, it gives us an issue that can both rally our base and makes good sense to independents and many Democrats.

On Friday, House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement on transparency. The key passage:

It’s just common sense: Americans should be allowed to read the text of major bills before Congress votes on them.  Previous Congresses, including Republican ones, failed to live up to this standard.  But never before has the failure been as blatant as it has been in the past nine months under Speaker Pelosi.   Things have to change.

There are two key parts to this. First, he grabbed the policy issue and framed it in the adult and serious way "Americans" (not "Members of Congress", which seems like only a populist argument, although some in the media have grabbed the straw man to give the Democrats aircover) should know what Congress is doing so that we can hold them accountable.

The second part is, perhaps, more important. John Boehner has now explicitly rejected the way that he ran the House, said "we have learned", and established a new line in the sand. Furthermore, one of the reforms that he advocates, in this case, a waiting period before legislation can be acted on, actually may impact many of the wasteful spending concerns that actually helped drive him out of office. 

What is so fascinating is the rejection by Senate Democrats and the silence of lefty advocacy groups other than the Sunlight Foundation. In an effort to get a public copy of the healthcare bill before a vote, John Kerry said:

"This is fundamentally a delay tactic," the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate said. "I mean, let's be honest about it. The legislative language, everybody knows, is relatively arcane, legalistic, and most people don't read the legislative language."

That's right. But people who are interested do. People who are experts or people being impacted do, or they hire people to.

And this gets to the final point. Where is the press? Huffington Post is being sent around by Demcorats, because they are giving cover to Democrats. But they aren't really press. But where is the Fourth Estate demanding that they have the information to tell the American people what the debate is about.

Crickets.

You would think that John Boehner repudiating how Republicans ran the House would be worthy of news.

Crickets.

You would think that John Kerry giving cover to the Senate acting without even having legislation (I'm not talking about reading the bill here ...) would be newsworthy.

Crickets outside of Fox and the Washington Times.

4.4
Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

By Soren Dayton, ago
Media

Boehner and Read the Bill: A sign that Congressional Republicans are starting to get it and the media isn’t

I have argued for a while that Repubicans need to pick up the mantle of transparency. It is useful tactically and strategically. On the tactical level, the guys in leadership always play "hide the ball with what they are doing". This gives Republicans a morally secure high-ground to attack whatever the Democrats do. Strategically, it gives us an issue that can both rally our base and makes good sense to independents and many Democrats.

On Friday, House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement on transparency. The key passage:

It’s just common sense: Americans should be allowed to read the text of major bills before Congress votes on them.  Previous Congresses, including Republican ones, failed to live up to this standard.  But never before has the failure been as blatant as it has been in the past nine months under Speaker Pelosi.   Things have to change.

There are two key parts to this. First, he grabbed the policy issue and framed it in the adult and serious way "Americans" (not "Members of Congress", which seems like only a populist argument, although some in the media have grabbed the straw man to give the Democrats aircover) should know what Congress is doing so that we can hold them accountable.

The second part is, perhaps, more important. John Boehner has now explicitly rejected the way that he ran the House, said "we have learned", and established a new line in the sand. Furthermore, one of the reforms that he advocates, in this case, a waiting period before legislation can be acted on, actually may impact many of the wasteful spending concerns that actually helped drive him out of office. 

What is so fascinating is the rejection by Senate Democrats and the silence of lefty advocacy groups other than the Sunlight Foundation. In an effort to get a public copy of the healthcare bill before a vote, John Kerry said:

"This is fundamentally a delay tactic," the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate said. "I mean, let's be honest about it. The legislative language, everybody knows, is relatively arcane, legalistic, and most people don't read the legislative language."

That's right. But people who are interested do. People who are experts or people being impacted do, or they hire people to.

And this gets to the final point. Where is the press? Huffington Post is being sent around by Demcorats, because they are giving cover to Democrats. But they aren't really press. But where is the Fourth Estate demanding that they have the information to tell the American people what the debate is about.

Crickets.

You would think that John Boehner repudiating how Republicans ran the House would be worthy of news.

Crickets.

You would think that John Kerry giving cover to the Senate acting without even having legislation (I'm not talking about reading the bill here ...) would be newsworthy.

Crickets outside of Fox and the Washington Times.

4.4
Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

By Soren Dayton, ago
Media

Boehner and Read the Bill: A sign that Congressional Republicans are starting to get it and the media isn’t

I have argued for a while that Repubicans need to pick up the mantle of transparency. It is useful tactically and strategically. On the tactical level, the guys in leadership always play "hide the ball with what they are doing". This gives Republicans a morally secure high-ground to attack whatever the Democrats do. Strategically, it gives us an issue that can both rally our base and makes good sense to independents and many Democrats.

On Friday, House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement on transparency. The key passage:

It’s just common sense: Americans should be allowed to read the text of major bills before Congress votes on them.  Previous Congresses, including Republican ones, failed to live up to this standard.  But never before has the failure been as blatant as it has been in the past nine months under Speaker Pelosi.   Things have to change.

There are two key parts to this. First, he grabbed the policy issue and framed it in the adult and serious way "Americans" (not "Members of Congress", which seems like only a populist argument, although some in the media have grabbed the straw man to give the Democrats aircover) should know what Congress is doing so that we can hold them accountable.

The second part is, perhaps, more important. John Boehner has now explicitly rejected the way that he ran the House, said "we have learned", and established a new line in the sand. Furthermore, one of the reforms that he advocates, in this case, a waiting period before legislation can be acted on, actually may impact many of the wasteful spending concerns that actually helped drive him out of office. 

What is so fascinating is the rejection by Senate Democrats and the silence of lefty advocacy groups other than the Sunlight Foundation. In an effort to get a public copy of the healthcare bill before a vote, John Kerry said:

"This is fundamentally a delay tactic," the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate said. "I mean, let's be honest about it. The legislative language, everybody knows, is relatively arcane, legalistic, and most people don't read the legislative language."

That's right. But people who are interested do. People who are experts or people being impacted do, or they hire people to.

And this gets to the final point. Where is the press? Huffington Post is being sent around by Demcorats, because they are giving cover to Democrats. But they aren't really press. But where is the Fourth Estate demanding that they have the information to tell the American people what the debate is about.

Crickets.

You would think that John Boehner repudiating how Republicans ran the House would be worthy of news.

Crickets.

You would think that John Kerry giving cover to the Senate acting without even having legislation (I'm not talking about reading the bill here ...) would be newsworthy.

Crickets outside of Fox and the Washington Times.

4.4
Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

By Soren Dayton, ago