Obama defends stimulus package on one-year anniversary

President Barack Obama began the Democrats’ marketing campaign for the stimulus Wednesday, claiming it prevented a “second depression.”
 
Democrats have hung their election year hopes on the $787 billion program and are marking its one-year anniversary with events throughout the country.
 
At the White House Wednesday morning, Obama said the stimulus program ensured that "a second depression is no longer a possibility" because of the government spending, and he urged Congress to pass another jobs bill to help small businesses.
 
Vice President Joe Biden joined the administration’s defense, saying the program has yet to kick in to full gear.
 
Biden, whose office has overseen the implementation of the measure, said that the plan is now entering its second phase of operation.
 
"We've only been halfway through the act," Biden said in an interview on CBS's "Early Show" Wednesday morning. "The job-creating portions are really loaded at the second half here."
 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has issued over 260 statements on the stimulus in the past year and has been one of the program’s strongest defenders.
 
The economy remains a top concern for voters going into November. A January NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 49 percent approved of the stimulus while 43 percent disapproved.
 
Republicans matched the Democrats’ in their marketing campaign, arguing just as forcefully the program is wasteful government spending that has not created enough jobs.
 
“President Obama promised 3.5 million jobs would be created by December 2010, which means Democrats need to create 6.3 million jobs over the next 10 months to meet their own rhetorical standard, a level of job growth that has never been achieved in American history,” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said.
 
Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue have launched a coordinated effort to portray congressional Republicans as hypocrites who criticize the spending even as they take credit for projects funded by it.
 
Obama echoed that sentiment Wednesday, pointing out Republicans who blast the program "even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts."
 
On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee launched its “Recovery Act Hypocrisy Hall of Fame.” DNC Chairman Tim Kaine said there are 93 Republicans on the list who have criticized the stimulus while accepting its funds.
 
A year ago, Obama staked his presidency on the Recovery Act, saying: “I expect to be judged by the results. … I’m not going to make any excuses.”
 
Obama also acknowledged the economy is still losing too many jobs and that to the unemployed it "doesn't feel like much of a recovery."
 
Unemployment stands at 9.7 percent nationally and the U.S. has lost 8.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007.
 
But Obama said the stimulus is expected to create another 1.5 million jobs this year.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday afternoon that the national unemployment rate "would probably be 11 percent or higher had it not been for the recovery act."

On Wednesday, the White House released a Recovery Act “By the Numbers” sheet, claiming the stimulus “is already responsible for as many as 2.4 million jobs through the end of 2009” and “in the fourth quarter of 2009, the economy grew 5.7 percent” thanks to the stimulus.

The president also called for another jobs bill, saying the stimulus program was "never intended to save every job or restore our economy to full strength."
 
"Our work is far from over, but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis," Obama said.
 
— Bob Cusack and Jordan Fabian contributed to this article.

-- This article was updated at 3:04 p.m.