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Administration, RNC Skirmish Over the Economy

By Frank Ahrens
The White House and the Republican National Committee exchanged rapid-fire dueling press releases this afternoon that were purported to be about the $787 billion economic stimulus. In truth, they were about something potentially even bigger -- next year's mid-term congressional elections.

The stimulus plan -- signed into law in February, paid for by the taxpayer -- is undergoing intense and increasing scrutiny, which boils down to one question: Is it working?

Only 7 percent of stimulus funds -- about $56 billion -- have actually made it out the door. The Congressional Budget Office said from the beginning that the stimulus would be slow to stimulate; it will be the end of 2010 before even 75 percent of the $787 billion is spent.

But that's not a politically satisfying outcome to either party. Today, the White House looked to deflect Republican criticism of the slow-moving stimulus. Moments later, the GOP fought back, saying the White House promised way too much.

It started shortly after 1 p.m., when the White House sent out a release including a transcript from a segment of CNN's Fact Check last week, which was examining a Republican attack on the stimulus. A GOP ad claimed that, in North Carolina, the stimulus had been used to hire a new state worker ... whose job was to apply for more government stimulus money. The Fact Check segment found the worker was hired to apply for grant money, not government stimulus money.

Also in the release, the White House took on one of its toughest foes on the Hill, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said that no stimulus-backed contracts have been signed in his home state, an assertion that was challenged by the CNN piece, which said several contracts were "underway."

The Republicans let these challenges to their challenges linger unmolested for about 20 minutes, when the RNC responded, using media reports of its own.

The RNC release quotes Obama saying, as he signed the stimulus: "Most of the money we're investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job-creation, generating or saving three to four million new jobs."

Then, the RNC quotes Obama in July: "It was, from the start, a two-year program, and it will steadily save and crate jobs as it ramps up over this summer and fall."

Not content to focus only on the stimulus, the RNC says this is not the first time President Obama has "moved the goal posts." The release noted that the White House predicted unemployment would peak at 8 percent then, last week, Obama raised his estimate to 10 percent.

With U.S. troops expected to be out of Iraq and the re-engagement in Afghanistan still small-scale, the economy is likely to be Issue No. 1 in next year's mid-term elections, especially as unemployment continues to soar (up to 9.5 percent last month), the stock markets lose their steam and consumer confidence sags.

The success or failure of the stimulus looms increasingly large for members seeking re-election who voted for it and for those looking to unseat incumbents -- specifically Republicans targeting wobbly Democrats.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 13, 2009; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Economy  
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THERE IS HOPE! Re-call the disaster unneeded excess taxpayer stimulus money now! It isn't going to work and doesn't help the people! It only helps the government and the friends of the Democrats! This is a horrible wrong and A deceptive waste. Give back the money you stole from the people Congress!

"Only 7 percent of stimulus funds -- about $56 billion -- have actually made it out the door. The Congressional Budget Office said from the beginning that the stimulus would be slow to stimulate; it will be the end of 2010 before even 75 percent of the $787 billion is spent."
So,Most of what as wrongly taken from us is unspent...

Posted by: USDefender | July 13, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

The answers to the questions about the stimulus plan are actually fairly clear. One answer is that with the help of George Bush, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Barack Obama, Larry Summers, and those who voted for the stimulus plan, we have avoided a financial collapse that would have lead to a crash of our economy. That effort was carried out over the opposition of most of the Republican members of Congress who would have preferred to do nothing when faced with imminent total breakdown of our economy. Another answer is that, as expected, unemployment continues to be a serious and growing problem. There is no doubt that many state empoyees are still working because of the stimulus program. But nobody ever expected the stimulus program to instantly solve the problem of unemployment caused by the worst economic contraction since the 1930's.
What is unknown is both what events will happen between now and the election and even more importantly how the voters will perceive those events. There is a good chance that unemployment will prove to be signifcantly worse than anticipated by the Obama administration and difficult to reduce. Will the voters simply focus on that reality and blame the Democrats. Or will the voters realize that the Republicans shoulder the larger responsibility for the policies that created the problems, that the Obama administration has been making a responsible effort to limit the short term pain as well as improve our long term economic prospects, and that the only answer from the current Republican members of Congress has been negative politics. Only time will tell. But there is likely to be and should be a large concern over the serious economic problems that are likely to persist through the next election. Of course, another question is whether the media will manage play any kind of positive role in the debate or whether they will simply try to exploit the economic pain to create controversy that sells news.

Posted by: dnjake | July 13, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

27 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a year of eye-popping numbers, add one more: The government's annual budget deficit has topped $1 trillion.
And with three months left in the budget year, it will actually get even worse. The administration is projecting that the deficit will hit $1.84 trillion for the current budget year, four times the size of last year's deficit. Last year's number was the all-time leader at the time, at $454.8 billion — a figure that now seems rather puny in comparison.

Posted by: mharwick | July 13, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

during reagan's term, the 1st bush's term, and the 2nd bush's term many of us were yelling to stop deficit spending. no one listened. deficits were not a problem, you said. we now owe $430 billion a year in interest to PAY OFF REPUBLICAN ACCUMULATED DEFICITS since 1980. obama's inherited deficit of $1.5 trillion includes this. just think, one third of obama's deficit is republican deficit interest - nice legacy. you all deserve a vacation. i'll pay. a one way ticket to iraq.....and when you find the wmd, i'll buy you a ticket home............IDEOLOGICAL CONSTIPATION CANNOT BE CURED WITH MORE STINKY "LIMBAUGHER" CHEESE.

Posted by: disillisioned | July 13, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

The deficit is now a trillion dollars and climbing, but the leftist incompetent
A-hole in the
White House is talking about more incredibly stupid spending.
When are you nitwits who elected this disgrace going to wake up and admit that you blew it?
The dumba$s doesn't have a clue about the economy. Nitwit Biden has admitted that twice now.
The only thing that is more embarrassing than the dumbo in the White House are the dummies who still support the slug.

Posted by: LarryG62 | July 13, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to add, affordable health care with cost containment is a number one priority to stabilize the economy. In a while there will be no health care for a majority of the citizens. This can not be ignored. Hospitals will be overwhelmed with non paying patients and the system will collapse.

Posted by: Beacon2 | July 13, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

-79 billion for the month of June.

-1.3 trillion from October to date.

10% unemployment, 3 million more out of work since November.

1# Inexperienced, Marxist nitwit from Chi-Town.

Democrats = " Yes We Can "

Posted by: dashriprock | July 13, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the press can not get the stimulus package concept out of their vocabulary. The stimulus was a Bush term used when we were not in a recession, but looking down the barrel of one. Obama used it for a while. We are now in stabilization mode, the original title was stimulus and stabilization. Obama has begun to optimistically refer to a recovery package. The objectives and outcomes of stabilization programs are different than a stimulus package, so the program changes as economic prospects change. At the very least stabilization and recovery are long term objectives.

There are not many economists talking about stimulating growth and some are more pessimistic as the economy still spirals downward with new loan defaults on the horizon for the commercial sector.

Our economy is undergoing a period of creative destruction and right now, there has been no economic engine to drive growth. We have embraced globalization and free markets without a thought to future consequences. We have broken the cycle of money. We have a Colony economy with a great imbalance of trade and increasing debt; there are many examples of how that ends up. Debt to stabilize is a better quality of debt than war debt or consumption debt, living beyond your means. With a Colony economy, debt will continue until our standard of living is non-existent. People will continue losing homes, businesses will fail and teachers, police and firemen must be fired even though the demand for services grows along with the population and increasing crime.

Posted by: Beacon2 | July 13, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

President Obama-ITS THE ECONOMY SIR! Govt run Healthcare is a noble idea & long overdue but you guys came to the media & with no blueprint! The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing between the member groups of Congress as to what plan & who pays for it!. (SHAME ON YOU). We have over 6 MILLION JOBLESS AMERICANS including 650.000 THOUSAND who will be exhausting their EB extended benefits, which hopefully will be extended BUT the Healthcare plan is NOT the #1 Priority Mr.President so you need to focus back to this RECESSION and JOBS JOBS JOBS!

Posted by: sher2 | July 13, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

The republicans are utterly useless. First they nearly unanimously vote against the stimulus only to turn around and practically beg to get their hands on it. And then when the full effects aren't felt in 90 days, they turn around and make a stink about it. If the democrats have any sense they will not honor a single republican request for a single dollar of that money and then campaign hard in their district. At least save the money for those who are smart enough both to accept it and give it time to work.

Posted by: zackool | July 13, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Are the dems determined to crash and burn? I mean people are not grossly stupid and a trillion dollar deficit has EVERYONE wondering.

Just don't do anything until the depression subsides, stay in power, drag out healthcare and global warming until the next administration, and be happy.

What was that phrase "it's the economy stupid"? When folks don't have jobs, nothing else registers on their radar.

Posted by: oracle2world | July 13, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The economy matters and it may seriously impact midterm elections. The largesse of the current majority party to their perceived friends and interests may turn out to bite them in the rear end. It may turn out be déjà vu all over again as in 1994, at least "Newt" Leroy Gingrich hopes so.

The majority party needs to be cognizant of their arrogant ways in conducting climate warfare and Gore's threat of global governance. God forbid!

Posted by: alance | July 13, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

This has nothing to do with Palin. Why does the misleading link to this story say it does?

Posted by: jaynashvil | July 13, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

So, yet again, I have clicked on a WaPo link to read a certain story ("Palin PAC raises $700,000") only to have something else turn up. The third time in the past few days that this has happened.

Hard to hook your readers if you keep misdirecting them. I know you've had budget cutbacks, but this kind of sloppiness is beyond annoying.

Posted by: DanielF1 | July 13, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

$700k is peanuts. That's two shopping trips for the Palins with enough left over for a nice moose stew dinner.

Posted by: arancia12 | July 13, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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