Resigning economic adviser to defend stimulus in final speech

Christina Romer, in her final speech as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, on Wednesday plans to defend the stimulus bill as averting a second Great Depression.

In prepared remarks, Romer says the stimulus, initially estimated at $787 billion and since revised to $814 billion, "made the difference between a second Great Depression and a slow but genuine recovery."

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Romer said many of the stimulus provisions are working through existing federal programs, which has made it "hard for people to see what the act has done."

"But it is precisely because it works through existing programs and spreads funds widely that it could get out quickly and reap large benefits,” she said.

Her speech comes amid signs that the recovery is slowing, with the housing and labor markets struggling. The economy grew at 1.6 percent in the second quarter, lower than the initial 2.4 percent estimate. And economists are privately expressing rising concern about a possible double-dip recession.

President Obama said this week that his advisers are looking for additional tax cuts or spending as ways to boost the economy. Any large package will struggle to win passage in Congress, with lawmakers reluctant to approve additional spending before the November elections.

"We have tools that would bring unemployment down without worsening our long-run fiscal outlook, if we can only find the will and the wisdom to use them," Romer said.

Republicans have sharply criticized Obama and Democrats for the stimulus bill and their broader economic policies. According to numerous polls, the economy is the top concern for voters in November, and the public has soured on Democrats' efforts at recovery.

The White House has not announced a replacement for Romer.