By the time Obama proposed his $447 billion American Jobs Act last year, it was widely agreed that it had virtually no chance of being enacted. “At that point, the politics were such that nothing was moveable,” Mishel said.
The measure includes incentives for small businesses to hire new workers; $50 billion for roads, bridges and mass transit; $25 billion to upgrade schools; and billions more to support state and local government jobs. Independent analysts have said the proposal would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
(The Washington Post/Labor Department) - Unemployment insurance claims increase.
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But Republicans say that with the nation deep in debt, whatever jobs the plan created would come at an unaffordable price. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has criticized the proposal as “a lot of money, a lot of political bluster but very little positive impact on the economy.”
Stimulus still unpopular
That anti-stimulus posture has been hardened by a promise made by Obama’s economic team as it took office. It said the unemployment rate would not rise above 8 percent if the stimulus bill were enacted. In fact, the economy was deteriorating much faster than the team members and other forecasters knew, and the jobless rate eventually peaked at 10 percent.
A broad range of economists agree that the stimulus prevented unemployment from spiraling even higher. But that view is not widely shared among the public. A
Pew Research Center poll
this year found that a plurality of Americans still disapprove of the stimulus.
The disagreement over the effectiveness of government intervention in the economy has become one of the major fault lines in the presidential campaign.
Romney says government should mostly get out of the way by lowering tax rates and regulation, giving businesses more room to innovate, grow and employ more people.
Obama says more public investment — in things such as infrastructure, education, research and training — will eventually lead to strong growth, an expanding middle class and new jobs.
“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have,” Obama said in his Democratic National Convention acceptance speech. “You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”