WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama assured the nation his recovery plan was on track Monday, scrambling to calm Americans unnerved by unemployment rates still persistently rising nearly four months after he signed the biggest economic stimulus in history.
Obama admitted his own dissatisfaction with the progress but said his administration would ramp up stimulus spending in the coming months. The White House acknowledged it has spent only $44 billion, or 5 percent, of the $787 billion stimulus, but that total has always been expected to rise sharply this summer.
For the first time, the administration admitted the economic forecasts it used to sell the stimulus were overly optimistic.
“At the time, our forecast seemed reasonable,” Vice President Joe Biden’s top economic adviser, Jared Bernstein, said Monday. “Now, looking back, it was clearly too optimistic.”
By now, according to earlier White House economic models, the nation’s unemployment rate should be on the decline. The forecasts used to drum up support for the plan projected today’s unemployment would be about 8 percent. Instead, it sits at 9.4 percent.
Some analysts believe the White House is still not being realistic, that Obama will be lucky if any real job creation from his recovery effort is seen by the end of the year, let alone the employment explosion he predicts.
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