WASHINGTON – The White House asserted Wednesday that the $862 billion stimulus law has been even better for the economically-struggling country than previously advertised.
Updating its estimate of the impact the controversial new law has had, the White House now projects that the vast spending act has created or saved between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs.
That's up from the estimate of 2.2 million to 2.8 million jobs that was released in the first quarter of the year from the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The new estimate says the act is on track, if it hasn't already reached, the promise that the stimulus act would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.
A growing body of independent economic analysis suggests the law has boosted jobs and kept people off the unemployment line. Yet exactly how many jobs is a matter of dispute, particularly at a time when the national jobless rate continues to hover perilously close to 10 percent.
Much of the stimulus money went to programs — like tax breaks, Medicaid and unemployment insurance — that don't lend themselves to easy head counts.
Christina Romer, head of the council, and Vice President Joe Biden released the new quarterly report at a White House event. President Barack Obama and his team are mounting a summertime campaign to show people that the costly stimulus act is working to invigorate the economy.
"There's obviously a lot of uncertainty about any jobs estimate," Romer said. "And I suspect the true effects of the act will not be fully analyzed or fully appreciated for many years."
The White House analysis estimates that every $1 spent as part of the stimulus bill is matched by $3 in private money.
Obama has traveled the country telling voters that as bad as things are, they'd be worse without the stimulus. He acknowledges that message is a tough sell. Obama travels Thursday to Michigan to promote batteries for electric cars, one element of his agenda to create jobs.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the latest White House report was no cause to celebrate. "The fastest-growing parts of this Democrat economy aren't jobs — they're the crushing burden of the national debt and the size of the federal government," he said.