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Obama defends stimulus package
US president says $787bn stimulus prevented a "catastrophe" like the Great Depression.
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2010 05:09 GMT
Obama is facing pressure over an increasing jobless rate in the United States [EPA]

The US president has defended his administration's multi-billion dollar stimulus package, saying that it has rescued Americans from another severe economic depression.

In a speech at the White House on Wednesday Barack Obama said the $787bn package that he signed into law exactly one year earlier had been "a solid accomplishment" that kept up to two million Americans in work.

However, millions are still unemployed and Obama acknowledged that for many Americans - particularly those out of work- "it doesn't yet feel like much of a recovery".

One year since the enactment of the $787bn American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Obama aimed his message mainly at people sceptical about the expensive relief measure.

"Our work is far from over but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis"

Barack Obama

"Our work is far from over but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis," he said.

He explained that the stimulus plan was composed of tax cuts along with assistance to state governments, extended social service benefits and investments in energy, education and infrastructure.

"We acted because failure to do so would have led to catastrophe," he said.

"One year later, it is largely thanks to the recovery act that a second depression is no longer a possibility," Obama said, referring to the severe downturn in the 1930s known as the Great Depression.

Selling the stimulus

Administration officials have also been travelling across the country this week to promote projects that have been funded by the stimulus.

Many Americans remain sceptical over the benefits of the stimulus package [AFP]
The government hopes that once Americans see the results of the stimulus, they would realise it has helped.

However, selling the package is proving increasingly difficult amid a 9.7 per cent jobless rate.

Last week, a poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times found that only 6 per cent of Americans believed the package had created jobs.

Obama and his Democratic party are facing intense pressure to boost the economy in an election year in which their large majorities in Congress could be at risk.

Republicans eager to convince the public that Obama's measures have failed, emailed out to local media the original administration estimates from a year ago that showed the US jobless rate would only rise to 8 per cent under the stimulus.

"In the first year of the stimulus, Americans have lost millions of jobs, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 per cent, the deficit continues to soar and we're inundated with stories of waste, fraud and abuse," said Mitch McConnell, a Senate Republican leader.

"This was not the plan Americans asked for or the results they were promised."

Source:
Agencies
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