By Walter Alarkon - 09/03/09 02:45 PM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that the stimulus saved hundreds of thousands of jobs this year and kept the country from sinking into a depression.
"Instead of talking about the beginning of a depression, we are talking about the end of a recession," Biden said Thursday in a speech marking the 200th day since the $787 billion stimulus became law.
Biden's remarks come after a number of economic indicators have pointed to a thawing in the recession. The economy contracted by 1 percent in the second quarter from 6.4 percent in the first quarter. Many economists expect growth this quarter.
But unemployment, pegged at 9.4 percent in July, remains high, and is expected to stay near or surpass 10 percent in coming months. The next jobs report is due Friday.
Biden, however, said the stimulus had helped create or save 150,000 jobs in its first 100 days and another 600,000 jobs in the second 100 days. The White House Council of Economic Advisors will issue its report on stimulus jobs on Sept. 10, Biden said.
He said that the stimulus, which was about "necessity" in its first months, will be about "hope and possibility" in the next few months.
Biden added that "radical change" will be needed in education and healthcare for the country to compete in the 21st century.
Biden pushed back against Republican critics who want more tax cuts and less public works spending, which Biden said was providing relief to Americans.
The infrastructure spending would have a greater effect in the long run because it would help create "a more resilient, more transformative economy," Biden said.
Biden said that government agencies have met or surpassed stimulus expectations, by building new health centers, saving or funding new law enforcement and education jobs and starting other new public works programs.
Biden suggested the stimulus will have greater effect in coming months. He said he has told the Cabinet to be more aggressive with stimulus programs, "to put more pace on the ball."