Jobless Rate Edges Down; White House Credits Stimulus
Today’s roundup of stimulus coverage:
The only stimulus news that really matters today is the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported this morning that unemployment in November fell to 10 percent, from 10.2 percent the previous month. The economy shed “just” 11,000 nonfarm jobs in November, down from 10 times that number the month before. What this means depends on whom you ask. Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, calls the numbers “the most hopeful sign yet” that the administration’s stabilization policies are working. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the House minority leader, said the continued job losses signal the dangers of the Democrats’ “job-killing agenda,” adding: “The costly policies Washington Democrats are pursuing – whether it’s a government takeover of health care, a national energy tax, or ‘card check’ – are already costing jobs and will pile even more debt on our kids and grandkids.”
In The Hill, Walter Alarkon reports that the cost of new job proposals under consideration in Congress could add up to nearly $300 billion, including aid to the unemployed, infrastructure spending, more loans for small businesses, and a tax credit for hiring new employees. Meanwhile, President Obama told USA Today that “it is not going to be possible for us to have a huge second stimulus, because frankly, we just don’t have the money.”
The Washington Post’s Alec MacGillis reports that the stimulus has been a boon for D.C.-area contractors. According to reports from stimulus recipients, federal agencies are paying contractors millions to help sort through applications for stimulus funding. “The money’s largely going to places where it’s always been going,” says a former government official. MacGillis reports: “Of stimulus grants and contracts awarded so far, the District has received nearly 10 times as much per capita as the national average.”
The U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia is meeting today with 80 to 100 representatives from an alphabet soup of federal investigative agencies to talk about ways to head off stimulus fraud in the area. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Tom Infield reports that the meeting includes agents from the FBI, Army, Navy, Department of Commerce and even the U.S. Postal Service. As Infield notes, there have yet to be any major stimulus scandals nationally. But that might not last. Infield coins what could be our favorite anthropomorphic simile for the stimulus yet: He said it’s like a “fat man getting off the couch. It took a while to reach its feet, but now it’s up and rolling.”
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Officials have struggled to spend the nearly $800 billion stimulus package quickly and effectively.