White House touts success of stimulus

But voters aren’t buying it

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“House Republicans need to immediately let their constituents know the truth - will they come out in favor of canceling funding in their congressional districts from President Obama’s economic recovery policies or will they continue taking credit for jobs and local projects they fought against?” said the DCCC’s Ryan Rudominer.

Democrats also say Republicans are gambling that their rhetoric will not haunt them in the fall elections.

“If Republicans want to slam good jobs being created in their districts for the sake of partisan politics, when jobs is the number one issue for voters, to talk about spending, which they can’t speak to credibly given how they exploded the debt when they were in charge, that’s fine with us,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan. “They’ll be seen, rightly, as hypocrites and lacking credibility.”

Mr. Obama continues to campaign on the Recovery Act. On Tuesday, he praised the tax cuts included in the measure.

The administration says the stimulus has shattered all expectations by being free from major fraud and abuse - though Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, has released several reports that argue money is being wasted.

When the bill first passed last year the Congressional Budget Office pegged the 10-year cost at $787 billion. But in January, CBO recalculated the cost and said the 10-year tab comes to $862 billion, in part because the unemployment rate was so high that the government was paying out more in benefits than had been predicted a year earlier.

Two top officials who helped Mr. Obama craft and sell the stimulus have either left or announced their departure from the White House. Peter R. Orszag, Mr. Obama’s budget director, left last month, and Christina Romer, who runs the Council of Economic Advisers, is leaving soon.

Ms. Romer in particular has been bruised by the stimulus. In January 2009, while urging passage of the measure, she released a report arguing that it would keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent.

Instead, the rate climbed past 10 percent and remains at 9.5 percent, helping drown out the administration’s claims that stimulus spending has created or saved up to 3.6 million jobs.

Stimulus opponents said the issue could last well into next year.

“Because the stimulus has failed, one of the first things a Republican-controlled House or Senate could do is a rescissions package to rescind a significant amount of the money that remains unspent in the agencies,” said Rob Collins, president of the American Action Network, a conservative advocacy group.

This weekend, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, California Republican and the House chief deputy minority whip, said rolling back the stimulus could save $260 billion.

Republicans have made repeated efforts to try to cut unspent money and use it to pay for more urgent priorities such as unemployment funding.

Although each of the GOP’s efforts was defeated, Democrats changed course just before the congressional summer recess and cut more than $2 billion from unspent stimulus money to extend aid to states for teacher salaries and Medicaid health care costs.

The White House, though, said that would be the only exception.

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