Is the Stimulus Plan Really Making a Difference?

President says recovery helped avoid a second depression.

ByABC News via logo
February 17, 2010, 8:20 AM

Feb. 17, 2010— -- Amid questions about the sustainability of jobs created or saved by the stimulus, President Obama today praised the recovery act for helping to prevent the economy from falling into a depression.

"One year later, it is largely thanks to the recovery act that a second depression is no longer a possibility," the president said on the one-year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "It's laying out the foundation for where we need to go."

Obama acknowledged that passing the $787 billion package "wasn't a politically easy decision to make," but he also criticized opponents of the plan, especially those who were taking aim at the bill even as "many of them showed up for ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts."

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have found jobs in projects funded by the stimulus program, but one year later, it's unclear what the future holds for some of these workers.

Vice President Biden today delivered a report to the president about the progress of the stimulus. The report states that $453 billion, about 57 percent of the money has been used, but questions remain as to whether that funding has been used wisely.

The Obama administration credits the stimulus with saving or creating two million jobs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office puts that figure between 800,000 and 2.4 million. Obama today projected that the stimulus funding will save or create another 1.5 to 2 million jobs this year. But a New York Times/CBS News poll out today shows that only 6 percent of Americans believe the plan has created any jobs, with 48 percent thinking it won't, a number higher than late last year.

Christina Romer, chair of President's Council of Economic Advisors, says employment will grow over time and that the state fiscal relief program in the stimulus has been effective in keeping thousands of teachers and firefighters on the job.

"Right now, the employment numbers look basically stable," she said on "Good Morning America" today. "We think we're going to see positive job growth by spring."

The 586-square-mile Hanford nuclear site in Washington state received nearly $2 billion from the stimulus package for environmental cleanup work. As of January, about $367 million had been spent and the money was credited with creating and saving 1,538 full-time jobs.

At the Utica City school district in New York, close to $12 million in stimulus helped keep jobs and make new hires.

Before the stimulus money came through, "we were actually looking at cutting about 61 jobs, and that's not just teaching jobs -- that's teaching staff, support staff and administrators," said Superintendent Jim Willis.

The money from the federal government, Willis said, helped keep those 61 jobs and add more and expand programs.

"It saved 61 jobs, it created another 73 positions, it saved a lot of programs that we were going to cut," he said.

But with the funding only going up to 2011, the district's clock is now ticking. New hires signed a document stating, "I am fully aware that the funding for this position will be eliminated in two (2) years. Therefore this position will end on June 30, 2011."