The Stimulus Plan
Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan has had a mixed reception. Many economists credit the initiative with helping to save the economy from an even more severe downturn.
But critics have seized upon the pace of spending. Excluding more than $200 billion in tax cuts that are spread over time, about 14 percent of the stimulus money has been spent in the six months since the act was passed, according to ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit investigative news operation.
Also, as the nation's unemployment rate continues to rise even as other economic measures improve, polls have found that the public is increasingly skeptical about the plan's effectiveness.
The administration sees the measure as a tool to jump-start entire new segments of the economy and to bring overdue funding to areas such as education, job training and health-care technology that it thinks will fuel future prosperity.
The administration projected that the measure would "create or save" as many as 3.5 million jobs, a metric that is all but impossible to demonstrate given the churn in the nation's labor market.
-- Michael A. Fletcher