Economy Alarm: “Relatively Little” Received Relief from “Stimulus” so Far

May 13, 2009

“Relatively Little” Received Relief from “Stimulus” so Far
Despite Promises to Deliver Funds “Within Weeks,” Democrats’ So-Called “Stimulus” Fails to Live Up to Hype

Democrats Promised “Immediate Stimulus” Would Help Americans “Within Weeks”

Measures to save law enforcement and teaching jobs will help cities see changes rapidly while withholding changes on paychecks could come ‘within weeks’ of passage of an economic stimulus plan now being considered by Congress, one of President Obama’s top advisers said Sunday.  National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers said despite the fact the U.S. economy’s problems took months or years to create — and it may take just as long to solve them — immediate stimulus could come with hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending and tax cuts.  (“Obama Economic Adviser Predicts Relief Within Weeks of Stimulus Passage,” Fox News, January 25, 2009)

Credibility Crash: Months Later, Money Barely Trickling Out to the Neediest

“Nearly three months after President Obama approved a $787 billion economic stimulus package, intended to create or save jobs, the federal government has paid out less than 6 percent of the money, largely in the form of social service payments to states.

“Although administration officials say the program is right on schedule, they have actually spent relatively little so far….

“The intent of the stimulus program was to pump money into the economy quickly, and many members of Congress said at the time of its passage that speed was of the essence. But the huge program has been a challenge to administer for both a new administration and for states and local governments grappling with their own fiscal problems.

“Some states and cities are beginning to complain that the money has yet to reach them. Others have been slow to get their paperwork to Washington; Virginia has yet to send the Transportation Department its list of road projects.

“At the same time, some economists have questioned the administration’s claims that the bill has saved or created 150,000 jobs….

“Now, a federal government that has often been caricatured as profligate has begun trying to spend money as quickly as possible and has become fixated, to use the new Washington catch phrase, with ‘getting money out the door.’

“The Obama administration has committed to spending 70 percent of the money, or $550.9 billion, within the first two years. By that benchmark, an administration official said, the government is 8 percent toward its goal.

“There has been skepticism of the administration’s claim of creating or saving 150,000 jobs. While it can be difficult to count jobs that were saved, as opposed to those that were created, Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland, said that trends in state and local government employment ‘just do not support that claim.'” (Michael Cooper, “Stimulus Aid Trickles Out, But States Seek Quicker Relief,” The New York Times, May 13, 2009)
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