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The Recovery Act – Year One Helps America Get Back on its Feet


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THE VICE PRESIDENT : Good morning, folks. Thank you all for being here. It's been one year today since the President signed the Recovery Act into law, and I'm probably preaching to the choir here as to how beneficial it's been. I stand before you, as I said, actually one day -- actually the exact day to a year that we signed this act. And what I want to talk about is what we've accomplished, where we were back then, where I think we are now, and where we're going.

And you and I know without any question the Recovery Act is working. It's working well, and maybe even most importantly, it's working towards something. It's not only helping American workers get back on their feet today but it's laying a foundation for long-term growth for tomorrow -- a little bit what we were talking about in the anteroom. And you're the living proof of just what the Recovery Act is capable of.

But the President and I, we realize that there's still a great deal more to do. We know that every success story that you could talk about there's another story about a man or woman who just lost a job, just been laid off, a plant that's been closed down, a mortgage that's been foreclosed on. We know times are tough for too many people and -- throughout the country. I don't find -- I've traveled now to I think it's 60-some cities talking about the Recovery Act, and every day, every community I go to, you can see the pain that some of the communities are going through -- communities that were battered by the economy.

I was just in Saginaw, Michigan. Through no fault of their own -- I've looked into the eyes of those out-of-work teachers, out-of-work businessmen and women, small business owners, construction workers who've been laid off. But I've seen something else as I've gone through those cities and towns. I've seen a sense of hope and optimism as well.

Just yesterday, as I said, in Saginaw, Michigan, I was with a gentleman who has his B.A. -- his name is Gonzalez -- Mr. Gonzalez. He worked for an automobile company and he got laid off. His wife and two kids were there at this event. But because of the Recovery Act and the job training program at a community college in his town, he went back and took a 16-hour course in being able to begin to deal with -- 16-week course -- in being able to deal with chemicals related to how they produced solar panels. And DOW Corning has a plant nearby. They added a thousand people over the last year because of some help they got as well, and in their great reach, he's now working. He's working at a decent salary. And that community college is going to train this year -- another hundred people are going to go right from that training program directly to a job.

The other thing I've noticed is -- and I notice particularly from you all -- and I use "you" in an editorial sense -- is this emphatic, unrelenting belief that there is no reason why America has to be number two. None whatsoever. I find even that laid-off worker refuses to believe America is going to be number two in the world -- whether it's in ultimately the construction of wind turbines, or whether it's in any other renewable energy form, or new automobiles and battery technology. I mean, there is this sense, there is this sense among Americans, even in these tough times, there's no reason we're not going to come out of this stronger than when we went into it.

And so that's what we've been having -- we've been able to deal with. And the Recovery Act has just provided some significant degree of optimism. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, sparking a clean energy revolution, transforming American health care, creating the best education system in the world -- that's our future.

I always say to my friends who think -- in politics who voted against this act -- I say, any of you tell me how we can possibly lead in the 21st century with the same education system, with the same health care system, and the same energy policy we've had the last 35 years? Everyone knows the truth. The truth is that without a transformation in health care, without a transformation in education, without a transformation in energy, we're not going to succeed; we will not lead the 21st century -- which is an unacceptable proposition to the American people.

But sadly, some of my friends who were willing to acknowledge we need to lead in all those areas and make transformational changes, they're unwilling to take what I admit are difficult steps to make this transformation. They're unwilling to step up.

Well, not us. The President and I know we can do better. You know we can do better. We know this is a new economy, and there's no reason why we won't lead it. That's why we think we have to usher in a new era of innovation and global leadership for America, and we owe much of the Recovery Act -- behind the Recovery Act, which we don't talk much about, is those elements of innovation and change we're looking for. And we also owe it to the clear-eyed leadership of not only the President but many of you.

I'll conclude by saying that many of you have taken advantage of the sort of spark that the Recovery Act provides in some of the tax incentives and others. But we don't think the government is the one that's going to ignite this revolution we need. You all take a little bit of help and you go out and you risk a lot. You go out and you get some help from the government, and then you go out to capital markets and you've been out there and you go on the line for a whole lot more -- a whole lot more risk. And we admire you for it. That's the way we're going to get through this.

That, along with the President's leadership -- he's the reason, in my view, why we stand here today with so much hope for tomorrow. His leadership has taken us very far from where we were last year. It's easy to forget, the first quarter of last year, this economy shrunk over 6 percent. The last quarter of this year it grew over 6 percent. Something's happening. Something positive is happening.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I think the main reason it's happening, at least in terms of government guidance, is because of the man I'm about to introduce: the President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Please, have a seat. Thank you very much. Thank you to Blake and Chuck, and thank you to my outstanding Vice President and his extraordinary team that have done just a great job managing this program.

I want to begin by recalling where we were one year ago. Millions of jobs had already been lost to the recession before I was sworn into office. Another 800,000 would be lost in the month of January. We'd later learn that our economy had shrunk by an astounding 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009. And economists from across the political spectrum warned that if dramatic action was not taken to break the back of the recession, the United States could spiral into another depression.

That was the backdrop against which I signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Denver with Blake alongside. It certainly wasn't a politically easy decision to make for me or for the members of Congress who supported it -- because, let's face it, no large expenditure is ever that popular, particularly at a time when we're also facing a massive deficit. But we acted because failure to do so would have led to catastrophe. We acted because we had a larger responsibility than simply winning the next election. We had a responsibility to do what was right for the U.S. economy and for the American people.

One year later, it is largely thanks to the Recovery Act that a second depression is no longer a possibility. It's one of the main reasons the economy has gone from shrinking by 6 percent to growing at about 6 percent. And this morning we learned that manufacturing production posted a strong gain. So far, the Recovery Act is responsible for the jobs of about 2 million Americans who would otherwise be unemployed. These aren't just our numbers; these are the estimates of independent, nonpartisan economists across the spectrum.

Now, despite all this, the bill still generates some controversy. And part of that is because there are those, let's face it, across the aisle who have tried to score political points by attacking what we did, even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts. (Laughter and applause.) But if we're honest, part of the controversy also is, is that despite the extraordinary work that has been done through the Recovery Act, millions of Americans are still without jobs. Millions more are struggling to make ends meet. So it doesn't yet feel like much of a recovery. And I understand that. It's why we're going to continue to do everything in our power to turn this economy around.

Now the truth is the Recovery Act was never intended to save every job or restore our economy to full strength. No bill or government program can do that. Businesses are the true engines of growth; businesses are the engines of job creation in this country. They always will be. But during a recession, when businesses pull back and people stop spending, what government can do is provide a temporary boost that puts money in people's pockets, and keeps workers on the job, cuts taxes for small businesses, generates more demand; gives confidence to entrepreneurs that maybe they don't have to cut back right now, maybe they can hold steady in their plans and in their dreams. That's exactly what we've been able to do with the Recovery Act.

And I just want to point this out -- there has never been a program of this scale, moved at this speed, that has been enacted as effectively and as transparently as the Recovery Act. I'm grateful that Congress agreed to my request that the bill include no earmarks, that all projects receive funding based solely on their merits. And despite that, I was still concerned -- Joe and I were just talking in the back -- when this thing passed we said $787 billion -- somewhere there's going to be some story of some money that ended up being misspent; $787 billion spent out over 18 months, that's a lot -- that's a lot of money. And it is a testimony to Vice President Biden and his team that, as Joe puts it, the dog, so far at least, hasn't barked. (Laughter.)

This team has done an outstanding job overseeing the Recovery Act. It doesn't mean that everything has been perfect, but when you think about the scope, the magnitude of this thing, this program has run cleanly, smoothly, transparently. We brought in one of the toughest inspector generals in Washington as well as professionals from private industry to help run the implementation. And every American can see how and where this money has been spent just by going on www.recovery.gov.

Now, just to review: One-third of the money in this bill -- one-third -- was made up of tax cuts. I talked about this at the State of the Union. Tax cuts for 95 percent of working Americans. I just want to say to the American people, because we see some polling where about twice as many people think we've raised taxes as lowered taxes -- 95 percent of you got a tax cut. (Applause.) Tax cuts for 95 percent of working Americans. Tax cuts for small businesses. Tax cuts for first-time homebuyers. Tax cuts for parents trying to -- trying to care for their kids. Tax cuts for 8 million Americans paying for college. So far, we've provided $120 billion in tax relief to families and small businesses.

Now, up until this point I've never met a Republican who didn't like a good tax cut -- (laughter) -- but you remember when I mentioned this at the State of the Union, Joe, they were all kind of squirming in their seats. They weren't sure whether to clap or -- (laughter) -- or not because most of them had voted against all these tax cuts, which I thought was -- it was interesting to watch. (Laughter.)

The second third of this bill was made up of relief for those who have been most affected by this recession. We've extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 19 million Americans. We made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who lost their jobs and had to get temporary coverage through COBRA. And we gave relief to states that were struggling to balance their budgets -– relief that has allowed 300,000 teachers and education workers to keep their jobs, as well as tens of thousands of cops and firefighters and first responders and correctional officers. And Joe Biden will tell you that not one of the 50 governors we've spoken to -– Democrat or Republican -– has failed to show appreciation for this relief.

And I also have to tell you that I am concerned because state budgets have not yet recovered, and you're now seeing a whole bunch of state and local governments who were able to put off layoffs last year, as the recovery money is running out, having to make some very tough decisions. And we could potentially see layoffs taking place this year because we haven't re-upped in terms of providing some help to those states and local governments. That's something that we're watching and we're concerned about.

Now, the last third of the Recovery Act is what I want to talk a little bit about more today. It's the reason Blake and Doug are here. That third is about rebuilding our economy on a new and stronger foundation for growth over the long term. See, we knew when we came into office that it wasn't enough simply to solve the immediate crisis before us. We knew that even before the crisis hit, we had come through what some people are calling the "lost decade" -– a period where there was barely any job growth, and where the income of the average American household declined. This is before the recession, over the course of the decade, the average American household, they saw their incomes decline even as the cost of health care and college tuition were skyrocketing, had reached record highs. The prosperity was built on little more than a housing bubble and on financial speculation -- people maxing out on their credit cards, taking out home equity loans.

We can't go back to that kind of economy. That's not where the jobs are. The jobs of the 21st century are in areas like clean energy and technology, advanced manufacturing, new infrastructure. That kind of economy requires us to consume less and produce more; to import less and export more. Instead of sending jobs overseas, we need to send more products overseas that are made by American workers and American business. And we need to train our workers for those jobs with new skills and a world-class education.

Other countries already realize this. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're building high-speed railroads and expanding broadband. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.

And America cannot stand still in the face of this challenge. We can't afford to put our future on hold. So that's why a big part of the Recovery Act has been about investing in that future. Yes, it created jobs now. Yes, it created business opportunities now. But more importantly, it's laying the foundation for where we need to go.

So instead of just pouring more money into America's schools, regardless of their performance, we launched a national competition between states that only rewards success and reform -- reform that raises student achievement, and inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools -- failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans.

We're also making sure that our nation has an infrastructure that's built to compete in the 21st century. So we now have projects in 31 states that are laying the ground for the first high-speed rail network in the United States of America. I mean, for years, Japan and Europe have had high-speed rail. China has got about 40 times as many projects that have been going on, on this front. We're playing catch-up; we shouldn't be.

The Recovery Act has made possible over 12,500 transportation construction projects, from rebuilding highways to improving our airports. And today we announced funding for over 50 innovative transportation projects across America –- everything from railroads in Appalachia to a new passenger terminal in New Orleans.

These projects will put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work. And in many cases, they already have. That's part of the reason that Chuck is here today -- he's the president of a construction company in Pennsylvania, and the Recovery Act will fund about a third of the work his paving company will do this year. That's allowed him to hire two engineers and about a hundred employees. So in case people are wondering whether or not the Recovery Act has created jobs and opportunity for businesses, talk to Chuck. (Laughter.) The new equipment he's ordered to help pave these roads will save an additional 40 jobs on an assembly line out in California. These are well-paying, long-lasting, private sector jobs that wouldn't be possible without the Recovery Act. They'll be doing the work that America needs done to stay competitive in a global economy.

In no area is this more important than in energy. Because of the Recovery Act, we have finally jumpstarted the clean energy industry in America, and made possible 200,000 jobs in the clean energy and construction sectors.

Just take one example: Consider the investment that we've made in the kind of batteries used in hybrid and electric cars. You've heard about these, right? Before the Recovery Act was signed, 98 percent of the world's advanced battery production was done in Asian countries. The United States did less than 2 percent of this advanced battery manufacturing that's going to be the key to these high-mileage, low-emission cars.

Then we invested in new research and battery technologies, and supported the construction of 20 battery factories that will employ tens of thousands of Americans -– batteries that can make enough -- factories that can make enough batteries each year to power half a million plug-in hybrid vehicles. So as a result, next year -- next year, two years after the Recovery Act -- the United States will have the capacity to produce nearly 20 percent of the world's advanced batteries -- from less than 2 percent to 20 percent. And we'll be able to make 40 percent of these advanced batteries by 2015 -- an entire new industry because of the Recovery Act.

This kind of progress is happening throughout our clean energy sector. Yesterday I announced loan guarantees to break ground on America's first new nuclear power plant in nearly three decades -– a plant that will create thousands of construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs in years to come. There's the manufacturer in Philadelphia who makes energy-efficient windows. He used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act until he had to add two more shifts just to keep up with the new business it's created.

And Blake at Namaste Solar -- it's based in Boulder, Colorado. One year ago, Blake gave us a tour of one of his company's solar installations, on top of a museum in Denver, right before I signed the Recovery Act into law. And at the time, Blake was pretty sure that the recession would force him to lay off about half of his staff. One year later, because of the clean energy investments in the Recovery Act, he has instead added about a dozen new workers, and expects to hire about a dozen more by year's end. His company continues to install solar panels all over Colorado, from the Governor's Mansion to the Denver Museum of Natural -- Nature and Science.

So that's our future. That's what's possible in America. You can argue, rightly, that we haven't made as much progress as we need to make when it comes to spurring job creation. That's part of the reason why the Recovery Act is on track to save or create another 1.5 million jobs in 2010. That's part of the reason why I expect Congress to pass additional measures as quickly as possible that will help our small business owners create new jobs; give them more of an incentive to hire.

But for those skeptics who refuse to believe the Recovery Act has done any good, who continue to insist that the bill didn't work, I'd ask you to take that argument up with Blake and his employees. Take that argument up with Chuck and his construction workers. Take it up with the Americans who are working in those battery plants, or building those new highways, or teaching our children new skills -- all because the Recovery Act made it possible.

So our work is far from over, but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis. And slowly, in new factories and research facilities and small businesses, the American people are rebuilding a better future. And we will continue to support their efforts. We will leave our children an economy that is stronger and more prosperous than it was before.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
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Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 2/17/10

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room


Q What does the President think most Americans feel about the stimulus package on this one-year anniversary? He seemed a little -- he has seemed a little frustrated in comments he's made, including today, about depictions of the stimulus package.


MR. GIBBS: I haven't talked to him recently about that. Jake, I know that -- I would describe it the way I described it yesterday. It's understandable the frustration that the American people feel about the direction of their economy based on what we've gone through since December 2007 in losing more than 8 million jobs, and what we've gone through over the past decade where there was virtually no job growth and in many cases people working harder and bringing home less. We're at 9 percent unemployment -- 9.7 unemployment. So, look, it's -- the President is frustrated with where this economy is, as well. That's not to mention housing, the financial system, and a whole host of other events that we encountered at the beginning of our administration.


Q What does he think Americans think about the stimulus package, though -- specifically about the -- you guys are obviously very proud of it. What do you think the American people feel about it?


MR. GIBBS: Well, let me explain what I think we believe the Recovery Act has begun to do. I think it is undeniable that the Recovery Act has increased and added to the economic growth that's been reported in the third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2009. Maybe the best way to look at this is absent what was pumped into the economy by the recovery plan, economic growth, rather than being plus 2.2 percent for the third quarter of 2009 -- which was, by the way, the first positive economic growth we'd had in a year -- estimates range from negative 0.6 to negative 1.1 percent. So the economy is actually contracting -- would have been contracting for a fifth quarter, fifth consecutive quarter.


In the fourth quarter, the economy grew by 5.7 percent. Economists believe that that number would be 3 to 3.7 percent where it not for the recovery plan. We know that 2 million people would not be receiving paychecks that are now.


And I think, most importantly, and what the President discussed today, and what you've seen -- would have seen when Vice President Biden traveled to Saginaw, Michigan, is that we have begun to invest in and lay the new foundation for creating jobs in the future.


The President used today the example of domestic electric battery capability in autos, something that -- the United States was largely responsible for 2 percent of the world's output the year before the Recovery Act; next year we'll be responsible for 20 percent of the world's output, and by 2015 40 percent, based on the investments through the recovery plan in clean energy jobs and in laying that foundation for long-term economic growth.


Again, it is understandable I think that people are frustrated with where they are economically, with their personal economic situation. And it's also understandable that despite the impact of or the effects of individual components of the Recovery Act, it's likely that because one of the components of the Recovery Act was to stem the bleeding in state and local government budgets, that actions that have had to be taken at that level have impacted the way people feel about what happened at a national one.


All of that is an exceedingly long way --


Q What do you mean by that last part? I'm afraid I don't understand.


MR. GIBBS: For instance, if you got a tax cut at the federal level, but because of record budget shortfalls in state and local government budgets they may have had to raise taxes, so your net impact may be that not only did you feel, but you got -- because of shortfalls -- a change in your taxes in a way that you didn't feel was positive.


You know, Chip is not here today, but Chip mentioned the poll yesterday, the CBS/New York Times poll -- I do think one thing -- one of the numbers that stands out is if you ask the American people, "How long do you think this recovery is going to take," 70 percent of the American people said two years or more. I think they get that this current recession started in December 2007. Economic anxiety probably dates back a good full 10 years. It's going to take quite some time to dig out of that hole.


Q Is that the same poll that shows that half the American people -- almost half, 48 percent -- think that the stimulus package will never create jobs when -- I mean, it's just an empirical fact that even if they're government jobs, it's clearly created jobs. Do you think it's just because it's almost 10 percent unemployment that the American people are so sour on the stimulus?


MR. GIBBS: I think that's a huge weight on all this. I don't think there's any doubt that -- do I think when the economy does recover that people will view the efforts to help the economy recover in a different way? Absolutely.


Q Robert, following on that, one of the criticisms Republicans keep harping on is that the President promised that the jobs that would be saved or created would be about 90 percent private sector, and Republicans keep pointing out that it's woefully inadequate in that department; it's mostly been government-related jobs, public sector jobs, not private sector jobs. And it's important obviously to save public sector jobs as well. It's nowhere near what the President promised. How do you account for that?


MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I don't have the latest figures in front of me. Obviously a big chunk of jobs that did result in unemployment last year -- the biggest chunk was teachers, which, regardless of what category you put that in, I think there are very few parents in this country that don't value a good teacher.


Q Absolutely, but the President sold it as private sector -- I don't disagree on the teachers, obviously, but --


MR. GIBBS: So they admit that jobs have been created?


Q Well, I don't think they'd go that far. I'll let them make their argument, but my point is that they are saying the President -- I'm not -- the President sold it -- it's what the President sold it as, 90 percent private sector.


MR. GIBBS: Well, look, again, I don't have the figures in front of me. Obviously the impact on job creation will -- 70 percent of the money will be spent by September 30, 2010. That means we've still got money that goes -- extends through that. I don't know what the final -- so I don't know what the final figures would be.


Look, I think what is undeniable is about 2 million people that are currently getting paychecks wouldn't be. What they would be doing is getting unemployment benefits. So, look, there will be plenty of time for the political sparring and the back-and-forth. Everyone has noticed that more and more Republicans are writing letters for, showing up at, as the President said, ribbon-cutting activities for these projects. So, look, I still think there's hope to win people over.


Q Last thing is a quick follow related to the economy. Las Vegas, one of the hardest hit cities in the country in terms of unemployment, foreclosures -- some of the President's fellow Democrats, like Harry Reid, Oscar Goodman, the mayor, have been upset about the President's comments about Vegas. There are others who are saying they've been taken out of context, it's sort of unfair. But Mayor Goodman has been saying he wants an apology when the President goes to the city tomorrow. How does the President view it? How is he approaching it? Should we expect an apology from him or --


MR. GIBBS: I have not seen the remarks for tomorrow, but whether the President wants to put in -- help people in Nevada understand the context of what he said, we'll wait, give us something to look forward to for tomorrow.


Q In spite of those 2 million jobs and in spite of all the talking you've done about the opportunities the stimulus spending has created, the fact remains, as we discussed about the poll, people don't see it. They don't see $800 billion worth of job creation.


MR. GIBBS: Well, we haven't spent $800 billion yet.


Q Well, you've spent -- depending on where you allocate the money, that much has gone out.


MR. GIBBS: Yes, between obligation -- right. Look --


Q Why don't they get it?


MR. GIBBS: Well, understand, again --


Q What's their problem?


MR. GIBBS: No, I don't think it's their problem, Bill. Understand this: 2 million jobs fill in a hole that was 8.4 million jobs deep, right? One of the things you never heard was anybody in this room -- meaning me -- say that this was going to be a dollar for dollar -- that dollar for dollar we were going to meet the downturn in overall loss of GDP. In fact, we said this would provide some dirt to fill that hole.


But again, I think as I told Chip yesterday, I think if a pollster calls you, and you have been laid off and your wife has been laid off, and you're having trouble finding money to pay for college, your neighbor has been foreclosed on, I don't think it's surprising if they ask you about the Recovery Act that you're a little sour on it.


I do know this, that -- again, this is undeniable -- there are about 2 million that are getting paychecks that wouldn't be. That's not 8.4, but that's 2 million more than would otherwise be getting that. It has led to the first quarter of positive economic growth in a year and now we've had consecutive positive quarters. We are not going to have job growth in our economy unless or until we have positive economic growth.


So this is not -- this was not a full cure for what ailed our economy. It is a way of putting people back to work, creating positive economic growth, and importantly, Bill, laying that foundation for long-term investments in jobs.


The example I used yesterday was wind energy. In 2009, the Wind Energy Association believed that, in comparison to 2008, there would be -- the growth in wind energy would be about half what it had been in 2008 based on the availability of credit. What we saw was not a 50 percent reduction, but in fact a 39 percent increase, because investment in wind energy through the Recovery Act fixed the credit market as it related to investment in those long-term energy jobs.


Q The wind energy people ought to come in here, might find some energy.


MR. GIBBS: Set up right here and just let it blow? Is that what you're -- (laughter.) You said it, not me. (Laughter.)


Q Did you start tweeting because you felt that you needed some further response to all of the social media out there, that your message wasn't getting across?


MR. GIBBS: I had all this free time on my hands. (Laughter.)


Q Oh, no, come on, give me a real reason.


MR. GIBBS: No, I said this earlier -- the truth is it was fascinating to watch. It was fascinating to watch you all in real time --


Q -- your voice wasn't being heard?


MR. GIBBS: No, I didn't. I felt like -- did I feel like it was a good avenue for our voice to be heard in? Sure. I thought it was -- all of you are on and I'm reading now all of what you're writing; I'm reading what you're reading; you're reading what I'm reading.


Q It's going to take up most of your day.


MR. GIBBS: I have noticed that it takes up -- it can be addictive. Trying to keep up, like I said yesterday, with everyone's Olympic emails is a task that simply prepares me for college and professional football season.


I will say this, one of the -- I obviously spent time with the lawyers yesterday based on questions we got about the Presidential Record Act of 1978. And I know Mark wrote specifically on this. What I write and what I tweet is archived as a part of this Presidential Records Act of 1978 because it is work product created as part of my job at the White House. People that follow me, people that read that, people that retweet that, none of that goes into or is archived as a result of the Presidential Records Act.


The only thing that would be archived other than what I produce is if you respond directly to me, and only me. It's analogous to sending an email to the White House, which is already archived. So if anybody believed that -- mentioning me, mentioning the White House, mentioning the President in any of the normal tweets that they do is of course not subject to the Presidential Records Act.


Q What if you send something and someone retweets it and comments, like, "I agree," or "I disagree"? That doesn't go there?


MR. GIBBS: If it only goes to me --


Q -- direct back to you.


MR. GIBBS: If it only goes to me then it would be archived because it would be the equivalent of an email. But let's say both of Mike's followers -- (laughter) -- if you retweeted something I said and sent them to both of his, that would -- neither of those two people would fall into the archives.


I say this because Mike poked me a little bit yesterday for not having enough followers and --


Q That's kind of a violation of the ethics -- (laughter) -- say things like that.


MR. GIBBS: Bill, I have to say this, Wendell had by far the best line, as we all know, yesterday. So that's -- yes.


Q What lessons have you guys learned and the President learned from this stimulus, from not just selling it -- which it seems that there's even plenty of people here acknowledging that there are different ways you guys could have sold this to the public -- but also in how it was put together by Congress and your -- are there things that the White House learned from dealing with this Recovery Act that they will do differently in trying to put together big legislation, in try to work with Congress?


MR. GIBBS: If you look at the speed in which -- well, first of all, let's go back to a little --


Q But you acknowledge that you guys could have done better on the PR front?


MR. GIBBS: Again, I acknowledge that it is -- I acknowledge that at 9.7 percent unemployment there are a terrific amount of economic --


Q But you didn't anticipate at the beginning --


MR. GIBBS: No, I -- I'm not going to spend a ton of time thinking -- speaking -- that would take up far more time than the computer. But again, Chuck, I think a lot of this derives from the fact that people are in this country, as the President hears from each and every day, hurting economically. That's understandable.


But let's go back a year or so ago. Economists -- liberal, conservative, left, right, the economists that advised John McCain's presidential campaign -- believed what we needed was a robust Recovery Act. It was put together and passed in I think -- put together, passed, and signed by the President in three weeks, because what we needed was to begin to get investment and money into this economy quickly. That's what happened. The effects were felt quickly because of that.


Look, from a pure PR perspective, you could break out everything into its 25 component parts, spent several weeks selling the component parts of wind energy, and passing it -- would it have made a PR difference? Who knows?


Q How about in your interaction with Congress in how you guys largely let them write big pieces of this? I mean, is that -- are you going to change --


MR. GIBBS: Do I think that impacts the way people see it? I don't. I think -- again, I think, understandably, 9.7 percent unemployment is -- sours your look on the economy. It naturally would for anyone.


Q And when are we going to get the details of how this debt commission is being -- I mean, we were discussing this earlier and --


MR. GIBBS: Probably either later today or first thing tomorrow I know the President will sign the executive order.


Q Rules of the game, who appoints who, all that stuff?


MR. GIBBS: The President will sign the executive order tomorrow and I'll figure out when those details are going to be --


Q With remarks?




Q And so the President is going to have two events tomorrow? He's going to be meeting with the Dalai Lama and he's going to be doing an actual event around the commission? So could you tell us about the choice of Alan Simpson, what you are trying to project and what it might do -- what you hope it will do to get Republicans onboard with this thing?


MR. GIBBS: Well, look, we have -- we confirmed obviously co-chairs for this bipartisan commission on the debt and the deficit. You have in -- look, you all should be thankful. He is a guy with a sense of humor in a town that often lacks one. And I think that will be fun for you all. I think it is a great service for --


Q A personality. (Laughter.


MR. GIBBS: No, no, no, I say that -- I think he is somebody who has dealt with many of these issues throughout his tenure in Washington in a serious way. I think having Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff to the President, who helped negotiate a balanced budget agreement in 1997 -- I think having these two individuals work together demonstrates the seriousness with which the President looks at the commission and this issue.


Now, Jonathan, what the Republicans decide to do is largely up to them. Senator McConnell spent a lot of time on cable television lauding the Conrad-Gregg commission until it voted against what he lauded. John Boehner was a cosponsor of the House version of the Conrad-Gregg commission. We'll see -- I think they understand the seriousness with which the President looks at this effort and attaches bipartisan leadership to, and we'll see where they go from here.


Q Has there been any consultation today, any progress in getting --


MR. GIBBS: Well, I don't know what calls have been made today. I know that last week calls were made to -- I believe to Leader Boehner and Senator Mitchell -- Senator McConnell, excuse me -- to talk about this. Obviously in the bipartisan meeting last -- it all sort of blurs together -- I guess it was last Tuesday, this was extensively discussed. We'll wait to see what their response is.




Q Robert, why shouldn't the commission be seen as a device by which the President and Congress are being let off the hook from making tough decisions they were elected to make?


MR. GIBBS: Because what this commission will do is, in a bipartisan way, recommend to Congress ways, tough ways in which to solve this problem. Mark, you've been around this town long enough to understand that only by working together are we going to be able to find solutions to difficult problems such as this. This is a way of creating a bipartisan vehicle for making that discussion serious.


Q Will the President bind himself to accept the recommendations?


MR. GIBBS: We'll go through the makeup of and the rules governing recommendations. As you've heard, the President is not going to prejudge where the commission lands and hopes that recommendations will be forwarded to and acted on by Congress.


Q You could fill a library with commissions' reports that have gone nowhere.


MR. GIBBS: You could. I think the President, though, discussed and has discussed throughout his tenure here having to get serious with our budget situation, and had hoped that a statutory commission would be set up. That, for political reasons, failed. He's taken the step of setting this up through an executive order because he's serious about making progress on this issue.


Q The President keeps referring to the $787 billion stimulus, but the CBO has said it was $862 billion. Why doesn't he use that number?


MR. GIBBS: That's, again, an estimate based on economic circumstances that change as a result of safety net programs like COBRA and unemployment extension. What that number ends up being at the end of the bill will be determined largely at the end of the bill. The $787 billion is obviously what passed Congress. We've asked for extensions of unemployment benefits, of health care, so I don't think anybody is confused about that.


Q Is the $862 [billion] wrong? I mean, how should we be referring to it then?


MR. GIBBS: By crediting the CBO.


Q On the stimulus, I want to give you a chance to respond to something that Michael Steele, the RNC chairman, said this morning about the Recovery Act, and I'm quoting him directly here now: "The other fiction we need to dispense with is this 'saved and created' nonsense." I'm still quoting: "I don't know what that is. I don't know what that looks like. And if I can't put my fingers on it, if I can't touch it, and if I can't get up at 6:00 in the morning and go to work there, then it's not happening. And that's the reality of a lot of people right now."


MR. GIBBS: Well, I can find a school that Chairman Steele can go to at 6:00 a.m. and put his fingers on -- (laughter) -- an elementary school teacher who -- (laughter) -- no, no, no, hold on, come on. A little bit of decorum -- that he can look at as somebody who, as a result of the economic downturn did not lose their job as a result of the recovery plan.


I'm happy to find you -- the President has visited businesses in Maryland that have created jobs. He should come to the White House and talk to the solar energy company executive today who's added jobs.


Continuing to deny what is undeniable leads one only to believe that Chairman Steele is far more interested in playing politics than he is in fixing what was broken in this country over the past eight years.


Q When CBO looked at the five largest categories of Recovery Act spending so far, it broke down along the Social Security payroll tax refund -- the tax cut, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, state -- emergency aid to the states, and student loans. Would you say, therefore, that a big part of the initial benefit of the Recovery Act or stimulus was to rescue people from situations that would have been far worse than had it not been there, and that these five categories of spending are now what we would traditionally regard as job creating but saving people from dire -- more dire circumstances -- a rescue component as opposed to reinvestment or recovery?


MR. GIBBS: Well, understand that one of the hallmarks of a bill that has not seen fraud and abuse is that you have to set up a system where an investment in an energy company is -- through a grant -- is going to have to be a system that's going to have to be set up. Cutting somebody's payroll tax can be done by changing the rate at which that tax is levied. Being able to go to a facility that provides you unemployment benefits and extend those benefits because you've lost them is not something that requires additional setup. So obviously the pacing of different activities has happened at varying times based largely on how those services are delivered.


Q But so far what's happened has been mostly rescue as opposed to a hard-core jobs creation kind of thing --


MR. GIBBS: I don't have the chart that I had earlier this morning with me; it's on my desk. But I think that -- obviously a cut in taxes, AMT relief, unemployment benefits, extending health care for those that have lost their job happens pretty quickly. And quarter by quarter, we've seen an increase in different investments to -- different investments in different sectors of what the recovery plan invested in -- understanding, Major, that one of the primary things that -- probably one of the three main components of the legislation was, as you said, aid to states, that also goes out quite quickly.


And you've seen the impact of state and local employment on the overall jobs numbers. Were it not for state -- I think this is true; I forget the exact number of jobs lost last month, but I know that state and local I believe was 41,000. So removing that you I think would have had -- again, I don't have the number in front of me, but I'm pretty sure you would have positive economic growth -- positive job growth for that month.


So, again, there's not one -- as I said yesterday, there's not one single thing that any piece of legislation can do, because we faced problems on any number of significant fronts.


Q Austan Goolsbee told me this morning one of the problems he thinks this recovery has had is that too many Americans confuse it with TARP or bank bailouts. Do you think that you've failed to make a communications distinction between the two and that's one of the problems you face as people try to decide whether this was good for them or not?


MR. GIBBS: Look, I think -- I'm not sure how we would have done it differently. Instead of calling it the Recovery Act, we could have called it the not-TARP act. But, I mean, look, I think that people have conflated money lent to banks, much of it paid back with interest, to stabilize the financial system, or investments that had to be made in restructuring auto companies with the recovery plan. I'm not sure exactly what could have been done to rectify that.


Q Robert, are Republicans winning the message war over the stimulus bill?


MR. GIBBS: I don't think so because quite a few of them are, like I said, showing up at ribbon cuttings. I don't know whether they have decided that it's good to make sure that you are seen being an active participant in trying to get the economy growing again rather than sitting on the sidelines and saying no.


Again, look at where -- the unemployment rate today would probably be 11 percent or higher were it not for the recovery plan. Two million people who are getting paychecks today wouldn't be getting paychecks. Economic growth would be decidedly different in quarters three and four than they were in quarters three and four as a result of what's happening on the recovery plan.


Q But, Robert, we know that the Republicans are saying things like -- Eric Cantor said today, "Still no job creation." John Boehner called it the one year of bloated -- broken promises, bloated government, et cetera. They're arguing no jobs have been created. And we also know --


MR. GIBBS: What's weird is that Eric Cantor --


Q Wait, and we also know --


MR. GIBBS: No, no, it's weird that Eric Cantor was trying to get some high-speed rail money to Virginia to create jobs.


Q Okay, fine. We're talking about -- but we also know that he was confused about this bill.


MR. GIBBS: No, no, no, no, no. Hold on. Let's not say "fine," let's not say "fine." When you're trying to create jobs through high-speed rail and then you're telling you that it's not creating jobs, it's hard to kind of square the circle between the rhetoric of what somebody says in Washington to a New York Times reporter and what they tell their constituents in their district in Virginia.


Q If you would let me finish -- they are making the case that jobs were saved or created, and we also know from polls that we've discussed here today that many Americans are confused about what this bill has achieved and whether or not it in fact has created any jobs. So I'm asking again, are they winning the message war?


MR. GIBBS: No. The answer is no. Again, I don't know what message Eric Cantor delivers when he tells you in Washington that it hasn't, but then tells his constituents, gee, I hope we get this grant to build high-speed rail in the district and create jobs. In Alabama, we call that hypocrisy. In Washington, we call that par for the course.


Q Thanks, Robert. Yesterday Senator Bayh said, "If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months." Is he right?


MR. GIBBS: I answered yesterday that obviously the Recovery Act was something that passed legislatively, as we know, a year ago, and the President -- I think the President and Senator Bayh both agree that now is the time to act accordingly in passing additional measures to create an environment for additional hiring.

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Guest Michael Steele

Over a year ago, the American people placed an enormous amount of trust in President Obama to make good on his promises of renewed responsibility and a new era of political bipartisanship. However, when faced with an extreme economic downturn he used the crisis as a means to his liberal ends and with the help of his Congressional allies forced his failed $862 billion stimulus package on America.


Today marks the one-year anniversary of this failed stimulus package, something the president still claims as one of his signature achievements and which he proclaimed would “create or save” 3.5 million jobs and keep unemployment below 8 percent. Since those early heady days of the Obama administration the American people have seen behind the curtain of rhetoric and watched as millions of jobs were lost and unemployment rose into the double digits.


While the Democrats spend their President’s Day recess celebrating their stimulus bill, something Speaker Nancy Pelosi called “a hallmark achievement of this Congress,” the American people are faced with the daily consequences of broken promises and fiscal irresponsibility. The fact is over 20,000 Americans lost their jobs in the month of January, meaning more than 2.8 million Americans have lost their jobs since the stimulus passed. And let’s not forget the 136,000 workers became discouraged last month from seeking work, bringing the total number of workers who have given up hope of finding a job to over 1 million.


President Obama promised 3.5 million jobs would be created by December 2010 which means Democrats need to create 6.3 million jobs over the next 10 months to meet their own rhetorical standard, a level of job growth that has never been achieved in American history. The president might call his fiscal and job creation plans a “new foundation for prosperity,” but in reality his binge spending agenda sets the stage for the type of economic stagnation that would make even Jimmy Carter blush.


Now let there be no question: the American economy will recover. The American people and their ingenuity, entrepreneurship and resiliency have always overcome challenging times. But President Obama and Congressional Democrats have done nothing to help the worker or the entrepreneur to overcome such times sooner. Instead, they conceitedly pushed a job-killing agenda that included a $2.5 trillion government takeover of health care and a cap-and-trade national energy tax scheme that has only brought instability to our economy and insecurity to the American people.


President Obama pledged that Joe Biden would lead "unprecedented oversight effort” for the $862 billion stimulus package, "because nobody messes with Joe." However, here in the real world almost everyone messes with "Joe," and in light of a year full of false job reports, phantom Congressional districts, and millions spent on "stimulus" road signs, it is clear that "Joe" has lost whatever edge he might have had.


Time and time again, Republicans have offered proven alternative solutions for job creation and economic growth centered on lower taxes and less regulation, but these ideas have been ignored by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. The president can scold the Republican Party for principled opposition and label us the Party of “no” all he wants but it doesn’t change the simple fact that Democrats completely control Washington and have used their power to go on a binge spending spree instead of providing real economic growth for the American people.


Despite the utter failure of major policy initiatives, President Obama and Capitol Hill liberals continue to arrogantly believe that government knows what’s best for Americans. It is this is the type of arrogance that defines the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats like President Obama have put their faith in the institution of big government to solve the problems this nation faces. For them America will only move forward with a top-down liberal agenda. Republicans, on the other hand, have put their faith in the American people and know that sustainable growth will only come from bottom-up solutions to grow the economy and create jobs. Pride truly does cometh before a fall. And if Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts tell us anything, this “fall” could be big.

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Guest Jason Bram

The monthly survey of manufacturers in New York State conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.


The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers improved at a healthy pace in February. The general business conditions index climbed 9 points, to 24.9. The new orders index fell, though it remained positive, and the shipments index inched downward as well. The inventories index rose sharply, to 0.0, its highest reading in considerably more than a year. The prices paid index was little changed from its high level last month, and the prices received index remained just above zero for a second consecutive month. Employment indexes were positive for a second consecutive month, although at relatively low levels. Future indexes continued to show a high level of optimism about the six-month outlook.


In a series of supplementary questions, manufacturing firms were asked about recent and expected changes in workforce size and other employment measures (see Supplemental Reports tab). Parallel questions had been asked in January 2009 and April 2008. In the current survey, roughly 64 percent of respondents indicated that they expected their workforce to increase in the year ahead, while just 15 percent predicted declines. This finding contrasts with last year’s survey results, in which respondents expecting increases in the total workforce had outnumbered those expecting declines by just 45 percent to 40 percent. Overall, when asked about the probability of various employment outcomes, respondents were considerably more optimistic than they were last year. The chance that their firm’s employment level would drop 5 percent or more was perceived to be 18 percent, on average, down from 34 percent in last January’s survey.

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More Money WASTED


A $5 billion federal weatherization program intended to save energy and create jobs has done little of either, according to a new report obtained by ABC News on the one-year anniversary of President Obama's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.



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Guest Fred Jones

You can complain or you can take advantage of this government's spending----------




Social Security.............Failing!

U.S. Post Office.................Failing!

Cash For Clunkers..............HUGE FAILURE!!!

Govt Run Insurance………..WHAT DO YOU THINK?????????

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac......JUST ANOTHER FAILURE!!!


What did you get out of these programs? Probably nothing…but you PAID DEARLY for them…as well as your grandchildren will. Thanks Uncle Sam for taking a budget of 7 billion in 1940 and ballooning it into the trillons in 2009.

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  • 4 months later...







You can complain or you can take advantage of this government's spending----------




Social Security.............Failing!

U.S. Post Office.................Failing!

Cash For Clunkers..............HUGE FAILURE!!!

Govt Run Insurance………..WHAT DO YOU THINK?????????

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac......JUST ANOTHER FAILURE!!!


What did you get out of these programs? Probably nothing…but you PAID DEARLY for them…as well as your grandchildren will. Thanks Uncle Sam for taking a budget of 7 billion in 1940 and ballooning it into the trillons in 2009.

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One more thing, the Tax Cuts HAVE TO EXPIRE.


Why? The stimulus budget. It has to be paid for, and make no mistake next year there ARE MORE TAXES COMING.


This is one of the effects of the democrats spending spree. If we want to get serious? Here it is "no games".


Reality is that all of this has to be paid for. The obama policy is expensive, Christ!!! In the health field My God!!!! The democrats are off to the races.


All the candy that they can get and more they are buying it on credit "I have seen this with my own eyes".


The waste is impressive.

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