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Obama takes credit for economic turnaround

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden raised key concerns with Putin, but may have overlooked others Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax Obama on Supreme Court ruling: 'The Affordable Care Act is here to stay' MORE is taking credit for the glimmers of good news showing up in economic reports, while stressing that the downturn began under his predecessor.

"We can see clearly now that the steps my administration is taking are making a difference," Obama said Saturday in his weekly address, "blunting the worst of this recession and helping to bring about its conclusion."

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He noted that gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter after four successive quarterly drops. And he said lending to small business has increased 73 percent. The figures, he said, were not cause for celebration, but a signal that the economy is headed in the right direction.   

It was pointed in the wrong direction, he noted in a not-so-subtle swipe, when he took over from former President George W. Bush.

"As I’ve said many times, it took years to dig our way into the crisis we’ve faced," Obama said. "It will take more than a few months to dig our way out."

Obama acknowledged that the positive economic signs do not include job growth; unemployment has increased to 9.8 percent, a 26-year high. But he said his stimulus plan has helped start a turnaround.

"Based on reports coming in from across America – as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life," he said, "it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than one million jobs."

But to Republicans, fact-checkers and some economists, the positive results are not so clear.

Some of the job reports have proven less than precise. The Associated Press and metropolitan newspapers such as the Salt Lake Tribune have found numerous instances were jobs were overcounted. For example, an $850,000 road project in Utah was reported to have created 25 jobs. But most of those jobs are part-time, and should have totaled only eight.

Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE has acknowledged that the reports are "not 100 percent accurate."

And economists question the idea of "saving" jobs, because it is hard to know which jobs might have been lost without the federal infusion.

"One can search economic textbooks forever without finding a concept called 'jobs saved,'" said Carnegie Mellon University professor Allan Mentzler. "It doesn’t exist for good reason: How can anyone know that his or her job has been saved?"

The memo from Mentzler, also a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, was written to House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE (R-Ohio) and released by BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE's office.

“The trillion dollar ‘stimulus’ isn’t working, and no amount of phony statistics can change that," Boehner said in a statement.