By Sam Youngman - 06/08/09 04:16 PM EDT
Despite an elaborate roll-out of an already announced plan, slipping poll numbers and a growing chorus of Republican criticism, the White House said Monday that the implementation of President Obama's $787 billion spending plan is ahead of schedule.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs bristled at suggestions that the recovery act dollars were not going out quickly enough, saying that despite mounting unemployment numbers, the plan is still being put into place.
"The reason that this wasn't a $787 billion, 100-day economic plan, why it's a two-year recovery plan, is because we never expected this all to be solved in 100 days. Right?" Gibbs said.
As to the national unemployment rate — at 9.4 percent — being much higher than administration predictions of 8 percent, Gibbs said that the administration "expected many, many months of continued job loss in the hundreds of thousands."
Gibbs's defense came as the president and Vice President Biden announced a plan to ramp up stimulus spending on new projects over the summer. But administration officials acknowledged that the increased spending was part of the plan all along.
"Obviously, spending $787 billion over a two-year period of time takes some groundwork to be laid in order to begin to move that money from individual departments," Gibbs said. "Obviously, it took some time to get the legislation passed. But we don't feel that in any way the recovery is bogged down."
Gibbs noted that $135 billion of the $499 billion for stimulus spending not designated for tax cuts has already been obligated.