Even before the first shovel went into the ground on a project funded by the Obama administration's $814 billion stimulus plan, the program was under attack from Republicans who have called it a waste of taxpayer money. But now the White House is fighting back.
A new report obtained exclusively by ABC News outlines the administration's top 100 stimulus projects -- a greatest hits compilation of what the White House considers the best examples of the stimulus in action.
"Republicans have often criticized the Recovery Act without recognizing projects specifically like the ones in this report," White House economist Jared Bernstein said in an interview with ABC News. "If you look at these projects, these are the ones that help plant the seeds for significant job opportunities for the middle class moving forward."
The report, entitled "100 Recovery Act Projects That are Changing America," highlights projects nationwide that the White House says are putting people back to work now and transforming the country's economy for years to come. The full report will be unveiled Friday by Vice President Biden.
The report highlights projects like the cleanup of an industrial park in South Plainfield, N.J. Thanks to $30 million in stimulus dollars, a wasteland contaminated by an old electronics plant is being transformed into a new industrial park. The White House says the project has already created 68 jobs and will be an economic boon to the South Plainfield area once it is completed next year.
"We are creating employment, getting folks in there, cleaning up that environment and this will be a new industrial park creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for decades to come," Bernstein told ABC News.
Cancer research is another job-creating stimulus project the White House is celebrating. The Recovery Act poured nearly $154 million into the Cancer Genome Atlas Project, an effort to beef up cancer research at 15 research institutions around the country. The White House says more than 150 scientists will be involved.
The White House also is touting the $175 million in stimulus funds being spent at New York's Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The funds are being used to replace nine bridges that are in a dangerous state of disrepair. There are 120 workers on the job rebuilding a transportation hub that services 60,000 to 65,000 commuters every day.
"We're thrilled to have stimulus money available to repair the vital links that will keep New York City strong," Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, told ABC News.
The new White House report bears a striking resemblance, both in format and in style, to highly critical reports from Republicans.
Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., have issued three separate "Top 100" lists of what they consider the most wasteful stimulus projects. Their latest report, issued over the summer, included 100 projects that they said had "questionable goals," were "being mismanaged or were poorly planned" and were even "costing jobs and hurting small businesses."
Coburn and McCain's latest report highlighted projects such as a $70,000 grant for Wake Forest University to research how cocaine affects monkeys.