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In Ohio, Obama says his policies have created jobs. Is that true?

Visiting a manufacturing plant in Youngstown, Ohio, President Obama said the $787 billion Recovery Act helped avert a possible depression. Critics – especially Republicans – aren't so sure.

By Staff writer / May 18, 2010

President Barack Obama tours the facilities of a manufacturer of steel tubular goods in Youngstown, Ohio, Tuesday before speaking on the economy. He said his economic policies helped put thousands of people back to work.

Susan Walsh/AP

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President Obama had a simple message Tuesday for residents of Ohio and the nation: White House economic policies are working.

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Is the message true?

The question is very much on the minds of voters and political strategists this week.

Democrats still have a slight edge over Republicans as the party that's trusted more on economic policy, but the advantage has narrowed this year, according to an Associated Press/GfK Roper poll released Sunday. Unemployment remains high, near 10 percent, at a time when job creation is Americans' top priority. And primary elections Tuesday are revealing the restive state of the voting public – a pattern that puts congressional incumbents at risk in November.

On a visit to Youngstown, Ohio, the president fought back against those worries, and against Republican naysayers in Washington.

Nearly 300,000 jobs added in April

"The fact is, our economy is growing again," Mr. Obama told a manufacturing-plant audience. He pointed to 290,000 workers added to US payrolls last month, a big turnaround from the massive monthly job losses seen a year ago.

"Any fair-minded person would say that if we hadn’t acted ... more people across America would be out of work today," he said. He defended the $787 billion Recovery Act and the massive prop-up efforts for the banking and auto industries as programs that, although not winning popularity contests, helped to avert a possible depression.

Many economists agree that those efforts, along with equally large economic support from the Federal Reserve, have helped the economy turn a corner. But that doesn't mean that Republicans wanted to "do nothing," as Obama implied, or that those economists who disagree with his policies are automatically failing to be fair-minded.

One thing that Obama can justly claim is that he inherited a very difficult situation when he took office early in 2009. The economy had come to the brink of collapse. It wasn't just Democrats, but also economists at places like the International Monetary Fund, who were calling for large government stimulus spending.

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