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Is stimulus plan working? The arguments pro and con.

A white House report released Wednesday said the stimulus plan has saved or created as many as 3.6 million jobs. But polls show Americans are skeptical.

By Staff writer / July 14, 2010

Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer, speaks about a quarterly report on the stimulus plan Wednesday in Washington.

Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP


The Obama administration said in a report Wednesday that its stimulus plan is working to bolster economy, but Republicans fired back that Americans aren't feeling what Vice President Joe Biden calls a "summer of recovery."

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"The Recovery Act has played an essential role in changing the trajectory of the economy," concluded the report, a quarterly assessment prepared by the White House's Council of Economic Advisers. "It has raised the level of GDP substantially relative to what it otherwise would have been and has saved or created between 2.5 and 3.6 million jobs as of the second quarter of 2010."

Mr. Biden, named by President Obama to lead implementation of the act, unveiled the report in a morning appearance.

Many Americans are skeptical about whether the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 is really helping. In a CBS News poll this week, 56 percent of respondents said the stimulus hasn't had an impact on the economy, and 18 percent said it has made things worse. Just 23 percent said it has made the economy better.

And, in a shift since April, the CBS poll found that, when asked to choose between two options, slightly more Americans (47 percent) favor reducing the federal deficit than spending more federal money to create jobs (46 percent). Three months ago the poll found 42 percent opting for deficit reduction and 50 percent for spending on jobs.

"Clearly, Obama’s stimulus plan failed to work as you predicted," Rep. Kevin Brady (R) of Texas said in a statement Wednesday, speaking to Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), at a congressional hearing. "Instead, this recovery has been unusually weak for one after a severe recession."

The dueling messages reveal that, more than a year after the Recovery Act was signed into law, debate about it is as hot as ever. Here's a look at some of the pro and con arguments:

Criticism: The White House uses Rosy numbers. The report by the White House CEA shows a tally of stimulus-related jobs that is higher than what many private forecasters believe. And, critics say, even those private forecasters may be wrong, because most of them draw their numbers from models that may or may not be right about how the economy works. For each of past four quarters, the two job estimates offered by the CEA are toward the high side of alternative forecasts, several of which are also shown. In the quarter just ended, the CEA estimated is that the Recovery Act may account for as many as 3.6 million jobs in the US; the highest private-sector estimate put that number at 2.3 million.