It’s not unusual to see a tough article pointing out that Obama’s claims of job-creating success are filled with fudged numbers, dubious claims, and blind assumptions that early promises have been kept. But it is rather significant to see one popping up in the New York Times, which looked at how a $1.6 billion Agriculture Department loan program touted as a “rousing success” by the Administration has actually been doing:
A current success story on the agency’s Web site is that of Carolina AAC, a company that received $10.4 million in late 2010 to build a concrete manufacturing plant in Bennettsville, S.C.
“This project will create approximately 197 new jobs in Marlboro County,” the Agriculture Department’s Web site says. Such a figure would make Carolina AAC the program’s third-largest borrower in terms of jobs created.
But Carolina AAC said in a January 2011 news release that only 36 jobs would be created at the project. And even that has not come to pass. Currently, 10 people work at the company, according to Charles Paterno, its managing member. Troubling for taxpayers is that the government backs 90 percent of the loans and they are in liquidation.
Mr. Paterno gave assurances that temporary hitches in the program (notably including the death of a major contractor) would be worked out. It seems even the 36-job figure is merely a “target” he’s confident of meeting. He’s also confident the full job creation potential will be reached… but it’s only 50 jobs at best. He had no idea where the Administration’s claims of 197 jobs came from.
The Times also relates the sad story of Singleteary Food Solutions, which gobbled up $4.36 million in USDA-guaranteed loans, plus $4 million from the Small Business Association… but never employed more than 30 people, and now the loans are in default. A similar fate befell the crown jewel of the USDA program, Peninsula Plywood Group of Washington State, which was supposed to create 334 jobs, but never employed more than 130 before it went belly-up in 2011.
“It’s not uncommon for small businesses to fail, and capital nowadays is hard to come by,” writes the Times. “So some defaults are to be expected.”
Well, sure, but these defaults are happening with our money. Capital isn’t that hard to come by when those with the right political connections can force taxpayers to bankroll them. And we are being actively lied to by the government about the results of these compulsory “investments,” which gets private entrepreneurs thrown in jail when they do it to their investors.
The Agriculture Department’s office of the inspector general recently questioned the accuracy of the agency’s job figures. In a March audit, it identified one borrower that had estimated its loan would create and save 400 jobs. After visiting the borrower, investigators found that the borrower saved two jobs. “The agency’s success in meeting its established performance goals may be overstated,” the report said.
Jim Brickman, a real estate investor in Dallas and a whistle-blower on problematic S.B.A. loans said, “The willingness of the U.S.D.A. to tout false job numbers to Congress and the public is absurd and a case study of why the public has lost confidence in government.”
The Agriculture Department’s program is certainly well-intentioned, and accentuating its positives is only natural. But with taxpayers backing this $1.6 billion effort, reliable job counts would be preferable.
Well, there you have it, folks. It’s OK for Big Government bureaucracies to lie through their teeth and defraud taxpayers, because they mean really well. A lot of the other figures shoveled by the Administration and President Obama are dubious, but as long as they really, really care and want the very best for the Sainted Middle Class, it’s all good. Reliable data would be “preferable,” but let’s not obsess over it.
That’s a remarkable statement from a paper whose editorial stance favors Big Government, arguing that democratic elections are the only check on power necessary for the compassionate super-State. We are assured that if the people were really unhappy with the government’s performance, they’d just vote it out of power. Electoral victory is a mandate for unlimited control and bottomless spending, because in the end, the political class “works for us,” and we can “fire” them if we don’t like what they’re doing.
How can people who believe that be so sanguine about learning that this government routinely lies to the people, on a massive scale, denying them the information they require to make rational decisions at the polls? It has been said the the Left is judged by its promises, while everyone else is judged by their results. The Obama Administration and its apologists seem to have embraced that dictum as standard operating procedure.