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Joe Biden, Eternal Stimulus Optimist

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden walk back to the Oval Office on April 24, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)As we pointed out on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden opted for the glass-half-full approach in his first quarterly report (PDF) to the president on the rollout of stimulus spending.  The report notes that $28.5 billion is out the door, the vast majority of it to Medicaid and unemployment benefits.

Yesterday, the AP decided to do a little fact-checking of the VP’s report, and found a few half-empty glasses. Biden cites an anecdote from a New Orleans business journal to back up his claim that first-time homebuyers are taking advantage of the $8,000 tax credit and “driving increased activity in the home sales market.” The IRS told AP that 567,000 tax returns claimed the credit. And yet, sales of existing homes have still fallen 3 percent since February.

Biden reported that the stimulus has created or saved 150,000 jobs, a number that is highly speculative--as ProPublica has reported--and impossible to untangle from the concurrent loss of 1.3 million, according to the AP.

Biden also took the opportunity in his report to give a shout-out to, which the government touts as a one-stop-shop Web site for tracking stimulus bucks. “Visitors to can easily access extensive information about their tax dollars at work,” Biden writes in the report. Only if bar charts of astronomical dollar figures with broad descriptions (Road Maintenance: $142.5 million) are your idea of “extensive information.” does have links to state Web sites, which vary widely in the amount of information they provide.

Biden continues the good-vibrations tour today in Los Angeles, where he will highlight the progress the Department of Housing and Urban Development has made in removing lead paint from homes using stimulus funds.

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