Today’s Qs for O’s WH

Apr 14, 2009 2:28pm

TAPPER:  In January, Dr. Romer, representing your incoming administration, put out a paper talking about the need for the stimulus package. And in it, she anticipated unemployment rates without the stimulus package basically where they are right now. In other words, it was a — I don’t want to call it a rosy scenario, but it was a more optimistic projection than what turned out to be.  Are you guys…

GIBBS:  What was the — I don’t — I…
TAPPER:  She predicted that the unemployment rate was, right now, would be what it actually is if the stimulus package didn’t pass.
GIBBS:  Right.
TAPPER:  So my question is knowing that, being able to look at what the projections were in January and see that they’re actually there — slightly more optimistic than reality has proven…
GIBBS:  Well…
TAPPER:  Do you think…
GIBBS:  Go ahead.
TAPPER:  Well, do you think that there needs to be more action taken on stimulating the economy now that the rubber has met the road, so to speak?
GIBBS:  Well, I think, to some degree, that curve, at least in the short term, the scenarios might well as easily matched each other based on the notion that when those figures were made, I think, in many ways, for a December meeting that the transition had to lay out a plan for developing that recovery, I think the bill did not get signed into law until — if I remember — the 12th or so of February.

I think, obviously, it’s going to take some time to get that spending into the bloodstream of the American economy.  That having been said, I think — as you saw the president yesterday give people a progress report on the ability to get that money into the economy quickly, to do it in a way that was ahead of schedule and under budget, particularly, in highway and road projects, which are not terms you generally see within a few words of a highway project.
But I think the president is encouraged that the spending and the recovery plan are kicking in.  Dr. Romer said this morning and I said yesterday that we’re likely to see many more months of hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.  I don’t think — I don’t think anybody’s under the illusion that, particularly, as it relates to the employment statistics or the employment market, that we’re going to see an instantaneous turn around.
But the president and Dr. Romer and the entire economic team are pleased that we’ve taken steps to address the downturn in demand, to do that in a way that they believe will save or create three and a half million jobs and move from recession to recovery. I think the president expanded on that today by discussing, again, what he believes has to be done in order to lay a strong foundation for continued long-term economic growth, which is the goal.

TAPPER:  If I could just do a follow-up on something you just said that the president said yesterday when announcing the 2,000th project as part of the transportation stimulus dollars. How many of those have actually started?  I recognize it’s 2,000 projects have been approved.  But how many have actually started?
GIBBS:  I can certainly look for a number.  I think what we highlighted was the fact that you’ve got bids that are coming in. You’ve got the acceptance of a bid.  But I can get exact numbers in terms of how much ground has actually been broken.

– jpt

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