President Obama on Saturday defended his $787 billion economic stimulus package as having ended an economic free fall after a week of criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.
Obama used his weekly address to the nation Saturday to say the stimulus in a little more than 100 days had worked as intended, and that without it there would have been tens of thousands of additional layoffs.
He added that the stimulus was not designed to work in four months but over two years, and seemed to ask those listening or viewing the address for patience.
"Crucially, this is a plan that will also accelerate greatly throughout the summer and the fall," said Obama, who added his administration always knew it would take some time for money to get out the door.
According to recovery.gov, the government web site tracking the stimulus, only $523 million of the $20 billion allocated to the Department of Transportation has been spent so far.
When he took office, he said he had warned that it would take many months to move the economy from recession to recovery and then prosperity. But he said the country is now moving in the right direction and was "cleaning up the wreckage" of an economic storm.
"We must let it work the way it's supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity," he said.
Obama's address comes just more than a week after a dismal jobs report for June that showed the economy losing 465,000 jobs last month, much more than had been expected. The nation's unemployment rate stands at 9.5 percent and is expected to hit double digits.
In previous recessions, it has taken more than a year after a recession has ended for unemployment to fall. That means the country could be dealing with unemployment in the range of 10 percent next summer and possibly fall, as voters head to the polls.
This has handed an opening to Republicans, who voted en masse against the stimulus with the exception of a handful of GOP senators. They've noted the job losses while criticizing the administration for predicting earlier this year that unemployment could peak closer to 8 percent.
House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Americans were now questioning whether Obama