Stimulus data showing 30K jobs draw GOP criticism

Data published Thursday showed contracts from the $787 billion economic stimulus created or saved 30,083 jobs, prompting more criticism from Republicans that the package was a failure.

The White House defended the partial data, which included jobs saved or created from contracts that made up just 5 percent of the $339 billion in stimulus funds spent through September.

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Though White House economists stressed that the data was incomplete, they still used it to argue that 1.2 million jobs had been either saved or created by the stimulus through September.

“All signs — from private estimates to this fragmentary data — point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much-needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy,” said Jared Bernstein, the chief economist for Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFox News polls: Trump trails Biden in Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Obama calls for police reforms, doesn't address Trump MORE.

But the small number of jobs reported Thursday by stimulus recipients highlights the political dilemma for Democrats.

Unemployment has jumped nearly two percentage points since the stimulus became law and is expected to continue to rise.

Obama administration economists arguing for the stimulus in January had said that the package would keep unemployment below 8 percent.

While Wall Street banks are seeing record profits, millions of Americans are looking for jobs, and midterm elections for Congress are now looming.

That’s led the administration and congressional leaders to mull the extension of several provisions in the stimulus to try to create jobs and put money in the pockets of people struggling through what the White House now calls the “great recession.”

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump calls Mattis 'overrated' after ex-Defense secretary issues scathing rebuke Obama calls for police reforms, doesn't address Trump Watch live: Obama addresses George Floyd's death and police reform MORE called on Congress on Wednesday to give $250 checks to seniors who won’t be receiving a cost-of-living increase in their Social Security benefits this year due to low inflation.

Administration officials also have signaled their support for extending expiring stimulus provisions for increased unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance for the unemployed.

In the Senate, members of both parties have called for extending the $8,000 first-time homebuyer’s tax credit, while Sens. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonJustice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein Loeffler runs ad tying Doug Collins to Pelosi, Sanders, Biden The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (R-Ga.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) this week offered legislation to expand that credit to most homebuyers.

“There is going to be a period of growth right now, but the job piece is what’s lagging,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told PBS this week. “And that’s the part that the president wants to see get another kick-start.”

But Democrats face political problems in pursuing more stimulus. The budget deficit hit a record $1.4 trillion in the last fiscal year, and pushing for more stimulus would imply the $787 billion package wasn’t enough. Administration officials have avoided calling any additional measures “a second stimulus,” and have noted that most of the spending on government programs won’t take place until next year and 2011.

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Both the Obama administration and Republicans are making the stimulus the centerpiece of economic messages as they head into 2010.

Obama on Thursday touted the stimulus during a visit to New Orleans, arguing that it has “helped to stop the bleeding” and is a first step to an economic recovery.

White House economists said in September that the stimulus had saved or created roughly 1 million jobs, noting that their estimate is in line with those of private economists and the independent Congressional Budget Office. Thursday’s data, though seemingly small, was in line with those projections, according to the White House recovery office.

The reported jobs number of 30,083 came out of contracts that made up 5 percent of the stimulus spending so far. As a result, the administration argues that if the same rate of jobs produced applied to the rest of the $339 billion in spent stimulus funds, approximately 600,000 jobs would have been directly produced by the stimulus.

The administration reaches its estimated 1.2 million figure by arguing that an equal number of jobs were indirectly created by the stimulus. Republicans scoffed at those figures.

The Obama administration plans to post online additional reports for stimulus grant and loan recipients on Oct. 30.
Republicans said that the stimulus will turn into a campaign issue that will work against Democrats.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) took Thursday’s initial stimulus reports to mean that the stimulus created or saved few jobs, especially in the home districts of vulnerable Democrats.

“Despite numerous promises from congressional Democrats, there are still 15.1 million Americans out of work,” said Ken Spain, NRCC spokesman. “After wasting taxpayer dollars to produce an unimpressive 397 jobs in Michigan, middle-class families are still asking one thing: Where are the jobs?”