Obama is promising some exciting coming attractions for his stimulus plan. But it turns out they’re just summer reruns.
Obama promised Monday to ramp up spending from the $787 billion stimulus fund and create or save 600,000 jobs by the end of the summer. It was an effort to shift the focus away from persistently rising unemployment and beat back criticism that the money isn’t flowing quickly enough.
Those promises aren’t new.
Stimulus spending had always been expected to rise sharply this summer, and the White House has been predicting that 600,000 job total for about a month.
Obama faces souring public opinion over his handling of the economy, which has shed 1.6 million jobs since the stimulus was signed in February. That total has far overshadowed White House announcements estimating the effort has saved 150,000 jobs, a figure that is so murky it can never be verified.
Monday’s announcement portrayed Obama as revving up the engine of the stimulus, but it was something federal agencies were already planning to do anyway.
The forecasts White House advisers used to drum up support for the plan projected today’s unemployment rate would be about 8 percent. Instead, it sits at 9.4 percent, the highest in more than 25 years.
Obama’s disapproval rating on the economy has risen from 30 percent in February to 42 percent, according to a Gallup poll completed May 31. Sensing weakness on a signature issue of Obama’s presidency, congressional Republicans are renewing their criticisms that the stimulus plan has not shown results, only mounting debt.
“This is President Obama’s economy, and his administration must provide results and specifics rather than vague descriptions of success that seem to change by the week,” said House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. “The administration looks dramatically out of touch as they highlight the creation of temporary summer employment in the face of job losses unseen in decades, record unemployment and massive deficits.”