Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 2/17/2010

By Matt Loffman

Feb 17, 2010 3:08pm

TAPPER:  What does the president think most Americans feel about the stimulus package, on this one-year anniversary?  He seemed a little — he has seemed a little frustrated in comments he's made, including today, about depictions of the stimulus package.
GIBBS:  I haven't talked to him recently about that, Jake.  I know that — I would describe it the way I described it yesterday. It's understandable the frustration that the American people feel about the direction of their economy, based on what we've gone through since December of 2007 in losing more than 8 million jobs, and what we've gone through over the past decade where there was virtually no job growth, and in many cases people working harder and bringing home less. We're at 9 percent unemployment — 9.7 percent unemployment.  So, look, it's — the president is frustrated with where this economy is as well.  That's not to mention housing, the financial system, and a whole host of other events that — that we encountered at the beginning of our ministration.
TAPPER:  Yes, but what does he think Americans think about the stimulus package, specifically about the — you guys are obviously very proud of it.  What do you think the American people feel about it?
GIBBS:  Well, I — well, let me explain what I think we believe the Recovery Act has begun to do.

I think it is undeniable that the Recovery Act has increased and added to the economic growth that's been reported in the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2009.
Maybe the best way to look at this is, absent what was pumped into the economy by the recovery plan, economic growth, rather than being plus 2.2 percent for the third quarter of 2009, which was, by the way, the first positive economic growth we'd in a year — estimates range from negative .6 to negative 1.1 percent.
So the economy is actually contracting — would have been contracting for a fifth quarter — fifth consecutive quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the economy grew by 5.7 percent. Economists believe that that number would be 3 percent to 3.7 percent were it not for the recovery plan.  We know that 2 million people would be — would not be receiving paychecks that — that are now.
And I think, most importantly, and what the president discussed today and what you've seen — would have seen yesterday when Vice President Biden traveled to Saginaw, Michigan is that we have begun to invest in and lay the new foundation for creating jobs in the future.
The president used, today, the example of domestic electric battery capability in autos, something that the United States was largely responsible for 2 percent of the world's output the year before the Recovery Act, next year will be responsible for 20 percent of the world's output, and by 2015, 40 percent, based on the investments, through the recovery plan, in clean energy jobs and in laying that foundation for long-term economic growth.
Again, it is understandable, I think, that people are frustrated with where they are economically, with their personal economic situation.  And it's also understandable that, despite the impact of or the effects of individual components of the Recovery Act, it's likely that, because one of the main components of the Recovery Act was to stem the bleeding in state and local government budgets, that actions that have had to be taken at that level have impacted the way people feel about what happened at a national level. All of that is — is an exceedingly long way…


TAPPER:  Could you explain more about that last part.  I'm afraid I don't understand.
GIBBS:  Well, for instance, if you got a tax cut at the federal level, but because of record budget shortfalls in state and local government budgets, they may have had to raise taxes.  Right?  So your net impact may be that not only did you feel, but you got, because of shortfalls, a change in your taxes in a way that you didn't feel was positive.
You know, Chip's not here today, but Chip mentioned the poll yesterday and the CBS-New York Times poll.  I mean, I do think one thing — one of the numbers that stands out is if you asked the American people, "How long do you think this recovery is going to take?," 70 percent of the American people said "two years or more."  I think they get that this current recession started in December 2007. Economic anxiety probably dates back a good full 10 years and it's going to take quite some time to dig out of that hole.

TAPPER:  That same poll shows that half the American people — almost half, 48 percent — think that the stimulus package will never create jobs.  I mean, it's just an empirical fact that, you know, the government jobs, it's clearly created jobs.  Why — do you think it's just because it's almost 10 percent unemployment that the American people are so sour on the stimulus?
GIBBS:  I think that's a huge weight on all this.  I don't think there's any doubt that — do I think when the economy does recover that people will view the efforts to help the economy recover in a different way?  Absolutely.

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