U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign the $787 billion economic
stimulus plan into law at a ceremony in the western city of Denver, Colorado on
Tuesday. Mr. Obama calls it a "major milestone on the road to recovery" for the
U.S. economy, while critics insist it is too expensive and will create fewer
jobs than proponents insist.
The bill, which includes government
spending and tax cuts intended to help push the U.S. economy out of recession,
is the president's first big legislative victory since taking office last
Congress, which is controlled by Mr. Obama's Democratic Party,
approved the plan on Friday, with legislators voting mostly along party lines.
The Senate passed the plan with only three minority Republicans voting in favor
of the bill. The plan received no Republican support in the House of
During a radio address on Saturday, President Obama
said the tax cuts and domestic spending projects will create millions of jobs
and spur economic growth.
"It will save or create more than 3.5 million
jobs over the next two years, ignite spending by businesses and consumers alike,
and lay a new foundation for our lasting economic growth and prosperity," said
The following day, White House senior adviser David Axelrod
cautioned on the Fox News Sunday television program that, while there
will be signs of economic activity very quickly, it could be next year before
improvement shows up in government reports - particularly with respect to the
nation's 7.6 percent unemployment rate.
"The president has said it
[i.e., the economy] is likely to get worse before it gets better. It is true
that, without this program, it could be much, much worse," said Axelrod. "And,
so, I don't expect the arrow [i.e., jobless number] to bend down by the end of
the year. But I do expect the rise in unemployment to be retarded by the things
that were done this week."
Moody's Economy.com chief
economist Mark Zandi who also appeared on Fox News Sunday said President
Obama's contention that the stimulus plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs
"It will make a difference. It's a good plan and I think
it will help the economy. By my estimate, it will add two to 2.5 million jobs -
more than would be the case without stimulus by the end of 2010," said Zandi.
"That translates into a lower unemployment rate of about a point to a 1.50
percent. So it is meaningful. But I don't think it's enough. The economy is
in a very difficult situation. The difficulties require a larger package. And
I think a year from now, we will be talking about stimulus again,
The bill still has strong critics, including Senate Banking
Committee Republican Lindsey Graham who spoke Sunday on ABC television's This
"Eleven percent of the money in this bill hits [i.e.,
will be spent] in 2009. Most of the money in this bill is in entitlement
spending. It's not going to create jobs. Twenty-seven percent of this bill is
now tax cuts. That's down significantly," said Graham. "Now, those tax cuts,
most of them, only $3 billion, goes to small business. Seventy-five percent of
the people in this country work for small business. Of the $787 billion bill,
$3 billion is directed to small businesspeople. I think we missed the mark a
long way. We increased new government. We did not increase new
Mr. Obama's former rival for the presidency, Republican Senator
John McCain, says the President backtracked on promises of bipartisanship to get
the bill passed. Former Democratic President Bill Clinton praised the stimulus
package, saying it puts money in the hands of people who need it to survive -
through unemployment benefits, food stamps, and tax cuts.