Define ‘every’

It seems unlikely that there’s a sizable group of Americans who take Lou Dobbs seriously, but he made a comment yesterday that’s worth highlighting.

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that “every major economist” thinks Obama’s American Jobs Act is “a continuation of” the “nonsense” that is “excess confidence in government power to do something over the economy.”

With the Senate poised to move on the American Jobs Act, let’s take a moment to note how completely wrong Dobbs really is.

To say that “every major economist” has dismissed the jobs bill as “nonsense” is precisely backwards — the clear majority of economists believe the American Jobs Act would boost economic growth and lower the unemployment rate.

This isn’t even controversial. The day after President Obama’s joint-session speech, the AP reported, “A tentative thumbs-up. That was the assessment Thursday night from economists who offered mainly positive reviews of President Barack Obama’s $450 billion plan to stimulate job creation.” Economists at the Economic Policy Institute published a very favorable response to the plan, and economists at Macroeconomic Advisers projected that the White House plan “would give a significant boost to GDP and employment over the near-term.”

Two weeks ago, Bloomberg News surveyed a group of major economists and found that they believe the jobs bill would “help avoid a return to recession by maintaining growth and pushing down the unemployment rate next year.” While the economists surveyed had widely divergent estimates, the overall consensus among the experts is that the Americans Jobs Act would create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of jobs.

What’s more, while Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and CBO chief Doug Elmendorf didn’t explicitly endorse the American Jobs Act, they expressed public support for the concept behind the plan.

In the meantime, independent economists who’ve been asked to look at Republican job-creation ideas have found the GOP measures are largely meaningless and would have no discernible effect.

And yet, there’s Lou Dobbs, insisting that “every major economist” thinks the American Jobs Act is “nonsense.” If Dobbs wants to argue that economists are wrong, fine. If he wants to make the case that economists are relying on the wrong forecasting models, fine. Maybe he could argue that the entire profession has been taken over by liberals.

What he shouldn’t do is pretend fantasy is reality. Most economists, like most of the general public, believes the president’s jobs bill would help the economy. The right may find this inconvenient, but facts are sometimes stubborn.