- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Congress’s scorekeeping agency now says President Obama’s stimulus spending program will cost only $814 billion over 10 years, or nearly $50 billion less than predicted in January.

But the Congressional Budget Office also said the stimulus is supporting slightly fewer jobs than it projected just three months ago, and said at its peak, occurring right now, it accounts for between 1.4 million and 3.6 million jobs.

Mr. Obama had promised the bill would help create between 3 and 4 million jobs by the end of next month.

CBO also said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as the stimulus is officially known, will have paid out about 70 percent of its funds by the end of September � slightly less than the administration’s initial goal of spending 75 percent of the money.

When the stimulus passed last year, CBO said it would cost $787 billion over 10 years. In January 2010 CBO revised that estimate upward to $862 billion ��in part because the unemployment rate was so high the government was spending more on jobless benefits. Tuesday’s estimate reduces the cost estimate to $814 billion.

The stimulus has become one of the key fights as Democrats and Republicans sharpen their arguments heading into November’s elections.

Republicans point to the high unemployment rate and argue the spending cannot be considered a success, but Democrats say the spending has helped keep a bad situation from getting worse.

CBO says that the Recovery Act has kept the unemployment rate � currently at 9.5 percent � between 0.8 percentage points and 2 percentage points lower than it would have been without the stimulus’s spending and tax breaks.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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