Schumer: Stimulus prevented depression

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that the economic stimulus accomplished its first goal of preventing a great depression and cautioned against rush judgments about whether the $787 billion package is a significant job-creator.

During an appearance on MNBC's "Morning Joe" program, Schumer said, "It's done job 1: prevent a depression. Now let's see if it does enough of job 2: create jobs."

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Schumer's comments come as Republicans seize on rising unemployment numbers as proof that the stimulus is a failure. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) labeled the stimulus "a flop" during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

Democrats have been on the defensive in recent weeks on the stimulus and their argument in defending the law has shifted over the last couple of months. Vice President Biden earlier this month indicated his administration "misread the economy" while also noting that many outside economists have been surprised by recent unemployment figures.

Schumer maintains it's too early to assess the stimulus as a job-creator, saying, "The president came in in the worst economic times since the Depression. Financial markets were shut and we risked the Great Depression. We truly risked the Great Depression."

He added, "The initial thrust of the stimulus package was to get some money out there into the economy quickly because if not you have a deflationary spiral. Now it's accomplished that goal. We don't risk the Great Depression. The second phase of the stimulus is job creation ... "

Schumer said policymakers will see over the next three or four months whether the stimulus package is effective in creating jobs.

The New York Democrat said, "Overall, I think you've got to give it a chance to work."

Pressed on whether he believes another stimulus package is necessary, Schumer said there is not much of a political appetite for such a  measure "at the moment."

However, Schumer said, if unemployment gets worse, "it's something we'd have to look at."

He praised President Obama's handling of the economy, but said he would have preferred a stimulus that was a bit larger and more focused on infrastructure spending.