Biden: We ‘Misread the Economy’

By Jennifer Parker

Jul 5, 2009 10:10am

Big admission from Vice President Joe Biden today.


“The truth is, we and everyone else misread the economy,” Biden told me during our exclusive “This Week” interview in Iraq.


Biden acknowledged administration officials were too optimistic earlier this year when they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at 8 percent as part of their effort to sell the stimulus package. The national unemployment rate has ballooned to 9.5 percent in June — the worst in 26 years.


“The truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited,” said Biden, who is leading the administration’s effort to implement it’s $787 billion economic stimulus plan.


“Now, that doesn’t — I’m not — it’s now our responsibility. So the second question becomes, did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package given the circumstances we’re in? And we believe it is the right package given the circumstances we’re in,” he told me.


The vice president argued more time is needed for the stimulus to work.


“We misread how bad the economy was, but we are now only about 120 days into the recovery package,” he said. “The truth of the matter was, no one anticipated, no one expected that that recovery package would in fact be in a position at this point of having to distribute the bulk of money.”


Biden didn’t rule out a second government stimulus package, but downplayed calls from Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman this week that a second stimulus will be needed.


I pressed the vice president, who is also leading the administration’s middle-class task force, on whether he’d rule out a second stimulus package.


“So, no second stimulus?” I asked.


“No, I didn’t say that,” Biden said, “I think it’s premature to make that judgment. This was set up to spend out over 18 months. There are going to be major programs that are going to take effect in September, $7.5 billion for broadband, new money for high-speed rail, the implementation of the grid — the new electric grid. And so this is just starting, the pace of the ball is now going to increase.”


–George Stephanopoulos

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