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Obama Unveils New Projects to Speed Economic Recovery


Posted on 08 Jun 2009

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In trying to bolster an economy he says still has a "long way to go," President Barak Obama announced 10 projects aimed at accelerating job creation, according to the administration.

The plans are meant to boost the effectiveness of a $787 billion stimulus measure sought by Obama and approved by Congress in February. The projects, including improvements to parks, highways and veterans medical facilities, will be the focus of recovery efforts during the next three months, an administration statement says.

The projects are intended create or save more than 600,000 jobs, about four times as many as were affected during the first 100 days since the rescue bill became law, the White House release says.

Construction equipment manufacturers Caterpillar Inc. and Deere & Co. are among companies that may benefit from federal contracts for some of the work.

“We have a long way to go on our road to recovery but we are going the right way,” Obama said in the statement. “Our measure of progress is the progress the American people see in their own lives. And until that progress is steady and solid; we’re going to keep moving forward.

Accelerated

The new projects are being framed as the beginning of a “summer of accelerated Recovery Act activity” by the administration and include new services at health centers in 50 states, work on 107 national parks, improvements at airports, highway locations and veterans’ medical facilities. They will also provide funding for schools to hire more teachers.

White House officials said yesterday they are encouraged by a slowing rate of job losses. The economy lost 345,000 jobs last month, fewer than expected and the lowest number since September, the Department of Labor reported June 5.

Still, unemployment rose to 9.4 percent, higher than the 8 percent the administration projected when it pressed Congress to enact the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Hopefully, that is a sign that this is turning,” David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama, told CNN yesterday. “While it’s going to take some time for these unemployment numbers to turn around, for the momentum to completely stop and turn in the other direction, it feels as if we’re moving.”

Foundation

Vice President Joe Biden, who later today will present Obama with the administration’s latest economic stimulus goals, said a “good foundation” was laid in the first 100 days of the Recovery Act.

“We plan to build on that foundation and accelerate our efforts so we can accomplish even more,” Biden said in a statement. “We’re going to get more dollars out the door, more shovels into the ground and more money into the pockets of workers and families who need it most.”

In the three months after the Democratic-led Congress approved Obama’s stimulus plan, the government doled out about 11 percent of the emergency stimulus funds, according to a progress report released by Biden’s office on May 13.

The administration says it will commit about 70 percent of the money by the end of the next fiscal year, less than the 75 percent that White House officials projected in February.

Biden, citing “significant progress,” stressed in the May report that most programs and projects were running ahead of schedule and under budget.

The act resulted in 150,000 jobs being created or saved in the first three months, the assessment said. Republican lawmakers have been critical of the stimulus spending, saying the spending has added to the deficit while failing to stop job losses. House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said last week the stimulus “isn’t producing jobs immediately, as the administration promised.”

New Projects

The 10 new projects to be financed with stimulus funds include hiring or retaining about 5,000 law enforcement officers, starting 200 new waste and water systems in rural areas, creating 125,000 summer jobs for young people and initiating 2,300 construction and rehabilitation projects at military facilities across the nation, the administration said.

“We will not grow complacent or rest,” Obama said. “Surely and steadily, we will turn this economy around.”


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