White House calls for jobs bill as it touts effects of stimulus on employment

A new jobs bill is needed even though the $787 billion economic stimulus package saved or created roughly 2 million jobs, the Obama administration claimed Tuesday.

Administration economists pointed to two separate economic models in arguing that the stimulus sparked either nearly 1.8 million jobs or 2.1 million jobs in 2009 that wouldn't have existed otherwise.


“It's truly a stunning and important effect of the act," said Christina Romer, chairwoman of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks Matt Stoller calls on Biden administration to keep McKinsey away from infrastructure Obamas describe meeting Prince Philip in statement mourning his death MORE's Council of Economic Advisers.

The estimates were released Wednesday as part of the stimulus report that the Obama administration must send to Congress every four months.

The report stressed that the numbers are similar to independent estimates of the stimulus' impact. The Congressional Budget Office pegged the number of jobs saved or created by the stimulus last year to between 800,000 and 2.4 million. Other economists said that the stimulus had a smaller impact; Moody's Economy.com found the stimulus created almost 1.6 million jobs and IHS/Global Insight said that it created about 1.25 million jobs.

Republicans in Congress have repeatedly attacked the stimulus as a waste of taxpayer money ever since Democrats passed it last February with little GOP support. They’ve noted that the unemployment rate has been 10 percent or higher for the past three months even though the administration predicted early last year that the stimulus would keep the jobless rate in the single digits.

The White House and Democrats said more stimulus-like measures are needed because of the high jobless rate but also defended the earlier stimulus.

“The act that we got passed, the $787 billion, was the biggest, boldest fiscal stimulus in American history,” said Romer, who reportedly argued internally for an even larger stimulus last year.

“It was as big an act as we could get through at the time,” she said Tuesay.

Romer said that any future jobs bill should build on the stimulus programs that have already had success. She noted that the $59 billion of the stimulus spent last year as fiscal relief for state and local governments helped stave off massive public employee layoffs, and she suggested that more fiscal relief would be effective. The president has called for a jobs bill that includes more relief for states, increased infrastructure spending, new small business loans and targeted tax credits.

"For all the good we've done with the recovery act, there are some targeted things we can do, appropriate at this point in the recovery that will jumpstart private job creation," Romer said.

The House last month passed a $154 billion jobs bill that focuses on state fiscal relief and infrastructure spending, while Senate Democrats plan to take up a jobs measure when senators return to work later this month.