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White House Disputes Study Saying Stimulus Cost Taxpayers $278,000 Per Job

The White House on Tuesday sharply disputed a report that uses data from President Obama's economic advisers to claim that jobs created or saved by the stimulus bill cost taxpayers $278,000 each.

The report released by the president's Council of Economic Advisers late Friday ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend estimated the Recovery Act saved or created between 2.4 million and 3.6 million jobs by the end of March 2011. Spending equaled $666 billion by that time.

"That's a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job," according to the Weekly Standard, a Washington, D.C.-based magazine. "In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the 'stimulus,' and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead."

But the White House said that study is based on "partial information and false analysis."

"The Recovery Act was more than a measure to create and save jobs; it was also an investment in American infrastructure, education and industries that are critical to America's long-term success and investment in the economic future of America's working families," White House spokeswoman Liz Oxhorn said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

"The nonpartisan CBO has confirmed that the Recovery Act delivered as promised, lowering the unemployment rate by as much as 2 percent, boosting GDP by as much as 4 percent and creating and saving as many as 3.6 million jobs," she said.

A White House official told Fox News that the stimulus didn't just fund salaries, it also went to pay for infrastructure such as construction materials and new factories, which are in addition to salaries.

"It's essentially saying part of the cost of a factory construction job is part of the factory itself, but investments like factories have a lasting and larger economic impact beyond just the initial job count," the official said.

The official added that the Weekly Standard cited a 2.4 million job figure instead of the 2.4 million to 3.6 million jobs listed in the White House report.

Republican lawmakers say the unemployment rate is the real figure to watch. While it was 7.3 percent when the stimulus was enacted, it's now 9.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"If you look at unemployment, unemployment has gone up by 1.9 million Americans. The unemployment rate has gone up 17 percent since the president took office," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said last week. "So this is not like a situation where you said, 'I inherited a bad economy, but I'm gradually making it better.' He's making it worse."

The Weekly Standard noted that the national debt at the end of 2008, when Obama was preparing for his presidency, was $9.986 trillion, but it's currently $14.467 trillion.

Ethan Pollack, a senior policy analyst with the progressive Economic Policy Institute, told FoxNews.com that the comparison between dollars spent and jobs created or saved shouldn't be made because "it's a silly way of looking" at the stimulus.

"I think it obscures more than it reveals," Pollack said. For example, it is common for employers to cut hours during a recession and increase them during a recovery instead of cutting or adding jobs, which isn't reflected in those calculations, he said.

Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who served as a member of the White House economic team until May, told FoxNews.com, that the actual cost per job is below $100,000 when all factors, including jobs that lasted only one year, are calculated. 

He said the Weekly Standard compares cumulative spending with a snapshot of jobs created. "You have to be consistent," he said.

David Cote, CEO of Honeywell, told Fox News that the stimulus plan did more than just create jobs, it helped restore confidence in the business sectors.

"I would say I have never seen such fear in the business community as I did at that time," Cote said. Everybody panicked. .... I liken that a herd was running off the cliff and you had to fire a shot. You might have killed a cow in the process or someone said it could have gone this way, but you had to stop the herd from running off the cliff."

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.