More economic stimulus needed? Obama rules nothing out.

There appear to be varying views within the Obama administration on the need for additional stimulus to jolt the economy out of recession and keep unemployment from rising further.

The latest round of comments started Tuesday at a conference in Singapore. Laura Tyson, a member of the 15-person White House Economic Recovery Advisory Board said Tuesday that the $787 billion economic stimulus plan Congress passed in February was “a bit too small” and that a second round should be considered.

Things are worse

A report on Tyson’s speech from Bloomberg News noted that she was speaking for herself and not for the administration. Tyson, who was President Bill Clinton's chief economic advisor, said the current stimulus package “will have a positive effect, but the real economy is a sicker patient” than when it was designed. The economy has lost 2.5 million more jobs than expected, she said.

President Obama created the Recovery Board in February to “provide an independent voice on economic issues” and to offer “independent advice to the President as he formulates and implements his plans for economic recovery.” It's chaired by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker.

No decision yet on second stimulus

On the way to Italy Wednesday morning aboard Air Force One, reporters asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if the administration was considering a second stimulus program. Mr. Gibbs said Obama is, “not ruling anything out, but at the same time he's not ruling anything in."

"Obviously we passed a hefty recovery plan that implements over the course of about a two-year period of time, and we're on track with that implementation,” he said.

Gibbs added that job creation, the indicator of greatest interest to voters and politicians, “is going to take some time.” He added that when coming out of a downturn, “Creating jobs happens at the very end, and that's what we anticipate will likely happen this time, though there is lots that we can do to get the economy back on track while we're working for creating jobs.”

OMB's harder line

A much stronger stance on a second stimulus came later Wednesday when Robert Nabors, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget was testifying on Capitol Hill about the current stimulus plan’s effects. “No one in the administration is talking about a second stimulus at this point,” he said. When asked about Tyson’s comments, Nabors replied, “She’s an outside economic advisor. She does not work for the administration.”

Democratic leaders in Congress also have staked out differing positions on the need for a second stimulus package. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday “we need to be open to whether or not we need further action.” On the same day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said “there is no showing to me that another stimulus is needed.”


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