Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said the administration underestimated the severity of the slumping economy when pushing Congress this winter to pass the $787 billion economic stimulus package, but added that it’s too early to consider a second massive spending measure to jump-start the economy.
“We misread how bad the economy was,” Mr. Biden said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “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 distributed the bulk of the money.”
Mr. Biden said the package will take some time to take effect fully because contracts for many of its projects, such as highway construction and repair, only recently have been signed. He promised that the program will create more jobs within the next 100 days.
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As far as the need for a second stimulus, the vice president said such talk is “premature.”
“This was set up to spend out over 18 months,” he said, “and so this is just starting. The pace of the ball is now going to increase.”
The former senator from Delaware also pushed back at Republican criticism that much of the program money has been wasted on frivolous spending projects with little economic benefit.
There were predictions that “this was going to be wasteful and all these terrible projects were going to be out there, and we’re wasting money. Well, that dog hasn’t barked yet,” he said.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, also on Sunday he was disappointed with the results so far of the stimulus program, but he agreed with the vice president that it was too early to consider a second stimulus package.
“I don’t think anybody can say that we’re honestly satisfied with results so far of the stimulus,” Mr. Hoyer said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Mr. Hoyer said that while even some Republicans predict that programs paid for with stimulus money will create at least 2 million jobs by the end of the year, he had hoped that the money would have been doled out more quickly.
But the lawmaker said he doesn’t regret helping draft and steer the measure through the House in February before it also passed the Senate and quickly was signed into law by President Obama.
“The stimulus package was absolutely essential,” he said, blaming the need for its existence on the “tanking economy” that Mr. Obama inherited from the Bush administration.
Republicans “haven’t had such a hot track record” on the economy,” the majority leader added.