Obama Marks First Year Progress of Recovery Act, Admits Many Don’t Feel Much of a Recovery Yet

By Matt Loffman

Feb 17, 2010 1:02pm

From Sunlen Miller:

Marking the anniversary of signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, President Obama said one year later, largely thanks to the legislation, “a second Depression is no longer a possibility,” and that it has “rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis.”

Admitting that the legislation has been controversial the president acknowledged that to the millions of Americans struggling that it might not feel like much of a recovery when they are still out of work, and took on the skeptics who say the Recovery Act has not saved enough jobs.

“Part of that is because there are those, let’s face it, across the aisle who have tried to score political points by attacking what we did, even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts,” Obama said, “part of the controversy also is, is that, despite the extraordinary work that has been done through the Recovery Act, millions of Americans are still without jobs. Millions more are struggling to make ends meet.  So it doesn’t yet feel like much of a recovery. And I understand that.”

Mr. Obama said that the Recovery Act was never intended to save every job or restore the economy to its full strength.

“No bill or government program can do that. Businesses are the true engines of growth.  Businesses are the engines of job creation in this country. They always will be.”

Year two of the recovery act, he said, will be rebuilding the economy on a new and stronger foundation for growth over the long term.

“You can argue, rightly, that we haven’t made as much progress as we need to make when it comes to spurring job creation. That’s part of the reason why the Recovery Act is on track to save or create another 1.5 million jobs in 2010.  That’s part of the reason why I expect Congress to pass additional measures as quickly as possible that will help our small-business owners create new jobs, give them more of an incentive to hire.”

For those skeptics “that refuse to believe the Recovery Act has done any good,” Mr. Obama said for them to talk to American people whose lives have changed because of the bill. He came armed with examples: Chuck and Blake.

Blake of Namaste Solar in Colorado (which the president visited last year when he signed the recovery act) has added a dozen new workers and expects to hire a dozen more by year’s end because of the Recovery Act. And Blake in Philadelphia who makes energy-efficient windows has added two more shifts to keep up with the new businesses created by the Recovery Act.

For those who still question the success of the Recovery Act, take it up with them, President Obama said.

“For those skeptics who refuse to believe the Recovery Act has done any good, who continue to insist that the bill didn’t work, I’d ask you to take that argument up with Blake and his employees, take that argument up with Chuck and his construction workers, take it up with the Americans who are working in those battery plants or building those new highways or teaching our children new skills, all because the Recovery Act made it possible.”

Mr. Obama said he is still concerned for state budgets which have not yet recovered—who were able to put off layoffs last year but as recovery money is running out might have to make some tough decisions.

“We could potentially see layoffs taking place this year because we haven’t re-upped in terms of providing some help to those states and local governments.  That’s something that we’re watching and we’re concerned about.”

Mr. Obama explained the backdrop when last year he signed the recovery act in Denver, the economy hemorrhaging jobs in the middle of a recession– which he said was not a politically easy decision to make, or for members of Congress to support.

“No larger expenditure is ever that popular, particularly at a time when we’re also facing a massive deficit.  But we acted because failure to do so would have led to catastrophe.  We acted because we had a larger responsibility than simply winning the next election.  We had a responsibility to do what was right for the U.S. economy and for the American people.”

The Recovery Act, Mr. Obama described, is “one of the main reasons,” the economy has one from shrinking by 6% to growing 6%. He reference the manufacturing production numbers posted this morning with “strong gains,” as evidence of more recovery.

The president admitted that the not everything has been perfect with the Recovery Act – but said there has never been a program of this scale moved at this speed as effectively “cleanly, smoothly, and transparently.”

“When this thing passed, we said $787 billion, somewhere there’s going to be some story of some money that ended up being misspent.  $787 billion spent out over 18 months, that’s a lot — that’s a lot of money.  And it is a testimony to Vice President Biden and his team that, as Joe puts it, the dog so far at least hasn’t barked.”

-Sunlen Miller

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