Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- Once again, President Obama accused the big banks last week of selfishness and greed, as his advisers were dishing out fictitious jobs numbers in a desperate attempt to distract our attention from his failed economic policies.

Only this time, the shamelessly unquestioning news media has begun to respond with signs of disbelief, challenging his blame-game motives and the hocus-pocus job "stimulus" figures his economic advisers have been peddling to an increasingly dubious electorate. They've started focusing, too, on the other economic skeletons in Obama's closet, like a projected 17 percent jobless rate among black Americans and stunning 50 percent rate among black teens who have been priced out of the job market by a higher minimum wage.

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The Associated Press released a blockbuster investigative report titled "Stimulus cash doesn't create local jobs," while Washington Post economic columnist Steven Pearlstein said Obama's attack on the nation's biggest banks for what he said were "massive profits and obscene bonuses" was "disingenuous" at best. Most of the biggest banks have repaid the loans with interest, and his Treasury secretary approved the early payments.

In its second quarterly report to Congress, the president's economists said his $787 billion stimulus package has created or saved between 1.7 million and 2 million jobs. Christina Romer, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, called the numbers "a truly stunning" result of the snail's-pace stimulus package that so far has spent only one-third of its money.

But Washington Post reporter Alec MacGillis points out that Romer's new figures "are based on macroeconomic estimates, not reports filed by stimulus funding recipients." Worse, they are based on slippery accounting standards that wouldn't pass a course in Accounting 101, and that cannot be accurately verified by anyone.

Among them: questionable standards to estimate how many Americans would have lost their jobs but didn't because of the stimulus spending. In some cases, the number of "saved" jobs totaled 100 percent of employees in a business or government program, while in others cases, no existing jobs were saved after receiving federal funding.

The day before Romer's numbers were released, the AP published an independent analysis of the jobs stimulus by economists at five universities who found little support for the president's contention that huge infrastructure spending would revitalize the economy.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.