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Scott Walker's fuzzy math

The Wisconsin governor's vow of 250,000 new jobs was a flop. His new boast about 17,000 new businesses isn't much better.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks with reporters after a meeting at the White House, Dec. 4, 2012.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks with reporters after a meeting at the White House, Dec. 4, 2012.
As a gubernatorial candidate in 2010, Wisconsin's Scott Walker (R) was so confident about the strength of his platform that he made a striking prediction: if elected, he'd create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin in his first term.
Just five months before his re-election, the Republican governor no doubt realizes that he will fall short of his goal. Indeed, he won't come close -- at this point, as Laura Clawson noted, in-state job creation in the Badger State stands at nearly 110,000 jobs since Walker took office. By the time November rolls around, the GOP incumbent will struggle to reach half of his goal.
Asked for an explanation, Walker's initial response was to downplay his original promise. "My goal wasn't so much to hit a magic number," he said last August. Reflecting on his rhetoric as a candidate, Walker told local media, "I said, 'it's really not about jobs, it's about real people."
That didn't seem to persuade anyone, so the governor has moved on to a new talking point.

Facing the near-certainty that he won't hit make good on his pledge to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin during his first term in office, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is pivoting towards a different stat that he believes reflects well on his economic policies: The number of new businesses created in the state over the past three-and-a-half years. Walker claims that under his watch, 17,000 new businesses have set up in Wisconsin.

That's clearly a departure from his pre-election assurances about. Indeed, I imagine all kinds of candidates would like to play this trick: "I failed to reach my goal, so I retroactively picked a different target, and wouldn't you know it, I succeeded!"
But there's a problem with this, too.
The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel explained this week that Walker's new boast isn't quite right, either.

Business starts are often a good proxy for economic health -- more business starts usually equals more growth, more jobs and a more vibrant economy. But Gov. Scott Walker's claim that 17,000 new businesses have emerged ready to hire during his three-plus years in office is a big stretch of the truth.

Apparently, when the governor and his team counted the creation of new "businesses," they included "Scout troops, youth athletic leagues and condo associations."
The editorial added, "The state needs to do whatever it can to reasonably and responsibly promote business creation. That serves the interests of the state and its citizens. Stretching the truth, as the governor is doing in this case, serves no one but himself."