Obama stimulus plan halted economic freefall, White House

*Obama to speak on economy Wednesday morning

*Net job growth expected by the spring – official

*Republicans attack White House over jobs figures

By Ross Colvin

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. President Barack
Obama’s $787 billion stimulus prevented another Great
Depression while creating or preserving 2 million jobs,
according to a White House report to be released on Wednesday.

The report, signed by Vice President Joe Biden who oversees
how stimulus money is spent, stressed the depth of the crisis
confronting Obama when he took office 13 months ago, as the
President constantly reminds Americans in his speeches.

But it also highlighted Obama’s challenge of trying to cut
a 9.7 percent jobless rate that has fueled voter discontent.

The report said the package of stimulus spending and tax
cuts “clearly halted an economic freefall.” Obama will get the
document at his economic intelligence briefing on Wednesday and
he will speak about the economy to mark the anniversary of his
signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at 10.25
a.m. (1525 GMT).

Opposition Republicans, as they have been doing for months,
hammered the White House for what they called a “poorly
conceived and badly executed” stimulus plan.

“Self-congratulatory ‘stimulus’ spin from this
administration is hopelessly out of touch with reality and has
about as much as credibility as prior claims that unemployment
wouldn’t exceed 8 percent or that jobs would be created
‘immediately’,” John Boehner, Republican leader in the House of
Representatives, said in a statement.

BATTLING PERCEPTION

Obama has said job growth will be his top priority this
year, recognizing that Americans are anxious about high
unemployment and the record deficit.

A survey last week showed he is also battling a public
perception that the stimulus package has created few jobs.

The CBS/New York Times poll found that only 6 percent of
Americans believed the $787 billion package had created jobs.
Another poll by CNN/Opinion Research Corporation showed a
majority opposed the stimulus program.

That could hurt Obama’s fellow Democrats, whose majorities
in both the House of Representatives and the Senate could be
under threat in the November congressional elections.

“It’s hard to get out positive news stories when people
tend to focus on what’s going wrong as opposed to what’s going
well,” Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to Obama, told Reuters in
an interview.

She acknowledged the administration had perhaps not done a
“good enough job of explaining” how the plan helped people.

“Ninety-five percent of families received a tax break in
the stimulus. So, maybe people aren’t fully appreciating that.
But they did get the tax break, for example,” she said.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the recovery was proceeding as expected.

“You don’t go from massive hemorrhaging of jobs to robust
job growth without passing through a period like this one,
where GDP recovers first and diminished job losses precede the
net gains we expect to see this spring,” he said.

According to Biden’s report, the Recovery Act had
obligated $334 billion in spending by the end of January, spent
$179 billion of that amount, and provided an estimated $119
billion in tax relief.

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(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Lisa
Lambert, editing by Alan Elsner)

Obama stimulus plan halted economic freefall, White House