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Streamlining the Broadband Grant Payout

 Today's roundup of stimulus coverage:

Responding to criticism that they aren't spending quickly enough, officials at the Commerce and Agriculture Departments have streamlined the process for doling out stimulus funding for broadband, the Denver Business Journal reports. Broadband grants totaling $7 billion will be given out in two rounds, rather than the three that were originally called for. The first round of grants -- about $4 billion -- drew 2,200 applications with nearly $28 billion in requests. The agencies are expected to start paying out the first round of grants next month.

Despite this seemingly positive move, The Wall Street Journal reports that several problems remain in the broadband grant application process, including difficulties for suburban and semi-rural areas in qualifying for the grants. But the authorities are listening. Potential applicants have two more weeks to make suggestions about how grant requirements should be changed.

And finally -- a warning from the World Bank (and reported by the Associated Press): The national unemployment rate, now at 10.2 percent, may have a staggering effect on the U.S. economy. "You're going to have problems with delinquencies of credit card loans, consumer loans, people won't be able to pay their mortgages," World Bank President Robert Zoellick told a group of reporters in Singapore. His advice? Spend existing stimulus money faster, but hold off on new stimulus packages. The current stimulus spending should fuel economic growth through the middle of next year, and after that, Zoellick said, consumer spending and business investment will have to take over to boost the economy further.

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