On Monday, President Obama provided the details of how his administration intends to "really accelerate" spending of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress last year.
The announcement represents an attempt by the Obama administration to respond to concern about the rising unemployment rate, which hit 9.4 percent nationwide – a 25-year-high – last week.
In a meeting with members his cabinet, he exhorted them to reverse the negative job cycle and replace it with a positive cycle.
"The key is building on our modest progress in the months to come," he said, saying that some 150,000 jobs have been created by the stimulus money.
The next step, he said, is to expand that to 600,000 jobs saved or created in the next 100 days.
After a televised address of his meeting with his cabinet, Mr. Obama and his officials worked privately on the details of the plan. At the cabinet meeting, Vice President Joe Biden, who is spearheading the spending of the stimulus dollars, presented the President with what was termed the "Roadmap to Recovery."
The road map includes 10 initiatives:
-The Department of the Interior will begin work to update and maintain 107 National Parks.
-The Department of Education is will fund 135,000 education jobs.
-The Department of Health and Human Services will pay for the expansion of 1,129 Health Centers.
-The Department of Transportation will begin improvements at 98 airports and over 1,500 highways.
-The Department of Veterans Affairs will make improvements at 90 veterans centers.
-The Department of Justice will hire or maintain 5,000 law enforcement officers.
-The Department of Agriculture will begin to build 200 new waste and water systems.
-The Environmental Protection Agency will start or accelerate work at 20 Superfund sites.
-The Department of Labor will create 125,000 summer youth jobs.
-The Department of Defense will undertake construction projects at 359 military facilities.
“By the fall, we’re going to be much further along the road to recovery,” said Mr. Biden.
Republican leaders in the House disagreed. "Today’s announcement is an acknowledgment that the Democrat’s trillion-dollar stimulus is not working, and the American people know it," said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.
"When they passed this spending plan, Democrats said it would immediate create jobs, yet nearly four months later unemployment has continued to climb and none of their rosy predictions have come true," he added.
A major reason for the slow progress, however, is that the federal process is designed to spend money carefully, not quickly, says Stan Collender, a budget analyst at Qorvis Communications in Washington. He noted that it took Republicans six months to get a major tax cut distributed in 2008.
“There is every little safety valve so there is no embezzlement, and if there is the individual gets caught,” he says. “It’s not designed for emergencies like this.”
In his Cabinet meeting, Obama said he was grateful that, so far, there had not been a “bunch of scandals.”