Republicans are taking their own potshots at the number. Last week, Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia said, "Very probably, these numbers are just picked out of the clear blue sky and are not authenticated," USA Today reported Monday.
A White House Council of Economic Advisers report said the stimulus program would create 6.8 million job-years by 2012, defining a job-year as one job lasting for one year.
On Saturday, White House economic adviser Christina Romer said, "We want to make sure our reporting is above reproach."
"Accuracy has always been the main thing, not the political back-and-forth," she said.
But University of Chicago economics professor Steven Davis said the administration was protecting its credibility by saying 3.5 million jobs would be "created or saved."
Adding "jobs saved" to the equation was "a very clever device for providing future political cover," he said.
"The 'jobs saved' part was a way for them to say, 'The economy is still shrinking, but it would have shrunk faster but for the good things that we did.' "
Copyright 2009 by United Press International.