The White House on Jan. 13 said a $787 billion economic stimulus plan had saved or created up to two million jobs, but that its impact on quarterly economic growth had slowed.
President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) said the bill, known as the Recovery Act, had added between three and four percentage points to Gross Domestic Product growth in the third quarter of 2009.
But it said that the plan, which was fiercely opposed by Republicans when it was passed last year, had a slightly smaller impact on economic expansion in the fourth quarter, adding between 1.5% and 3% to economic growth.
In effect, the White House argued that without the stimulus, the economy may not have returned to growth at all after a brutal recession.
"We know that when you have fiscal stimulus it has the biggest impact of growth rates when it is first ramping up," said CEA chair Christina Romer.
The CEA report said that the stimulus had raised employment by up to two million jobs as far as the end of last year. "Our estimate is that as of the fourth quarter 2009, we think the Recovery Act has added between 1.5 to two million jobs relative to where we otherwise would have been," Romer said.
She described the Recovery Act as "the biggest, boldest stimulus in American history. "It has done exactly what we anticipated it would do," Romer said.
Republicans have however lashed the economic stimulus act as a costly failure and are branding Obama a "job-killing president."
Representative Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, blasted what he called the "self-serving and deceptive numbers being put out by the White House" on job creation. "Another word for it is propaganda," Issa said.
The second CEA quarterly report on the stimulus was released before Obama was due to visit suburban Maryland later on Jna. 13 and deliver remarks on clean energy jobs created by the stimulus plan. It said the employment impact of the stimulus plan was expected to "increase substantially" over time, as would the total economic effect of the plan, as people who had found new jobs boosted spending.
By the end of 2009, $263 billion of the plan had been outlayed or used to provide tax cuts, the CEA said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010