Democrats, White House: Time Needed for Stimulus to Work

12 March 2009

Majority Democrats and the Obama administration say more time is needed to see if actions already taken to stimulate the economy bear fruit. Democrats and the White House are downplaying speculation about a possible second stimulus on top of the $787-billion measure approved in February, saying Americans should be confident that Congress and the administration are acting aggressively.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 12 Mar 2009
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 12 Mar 2009
After saying earlier in the week that the door remains open to a second stimulus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the focus for now must be on assessing the impact of the $787 billion measure Congress approved.

Pelosi says that stimulus has the right components in the form of steps to save and create jobs, stimulative tax cuts, and other provisions, to get the economy moving again.

Asked about indications from some Democratic committee chairmen that planning is already underway for a second stimulus, Pelosi said the hope is that the initial measure and other items on the Democrat's agenda will be sufficient.

"That [original stimulus] combined with a highway bill, a water bill, an omnibus bill, the regular order of the appropriations process I think should be able to contain all of this, but you don't close the door to some other things, it's just not something that right now is in the cards," said Nancy Pelosi.

At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs delivered the same message, saying the current stimulus is aimed at addressing the most urgent problems, and the President remains focused on ensuring that spending is carried out responsibly.

"This administration is not focused on some hypothetical question of a second one but how best do we implement the current one that we have in order to get people back to work," said Robert Gibbs.

Minority Republicans kept up their criticisms of the president and Democrats on the stimulus and the 2010 budget now being hashed out by congressional committees.

Republicans Mike Pence (r) and Paul Ryan, 12 Mar 2009
Republicans Mike Pence (r) and Paul Ryan, 12 Mar 2009
On opposite sides of the Capitol, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions and Republican Representative Paul Ryan assailed the president's spending outline.

SESSIONS: "This budget at its base is more taxes, more spending and more debt."

RYAN: "This budget is not a stimulus. This budget produces stagnation.  This budget will make our economy worse off, it will actually hurt our chances [of] getting out of recession."

President Obama does not face completely smooth sailing on the budget, with members of his own party voicing concerns about various aspects of the outline Congress received.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said he's worried about the amount of debt the country is accumulating as Congress and the administration grapple with a situation inherited from the Bush administration.

"I want to make very clear that I believe build up of debt fundamentally threatens the economic security of this country," said Kent Conrad.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson said members came away from a meeting with budget director Peter Orszag reassured about the president's priorities, but said lawmakers have the flexibility to make adjustments:

"Certainly always there is broad latitude within a budget to work those matters through," said John Larson.

Republicans say they will release in coming months what they call constructive alternatives to Obama administration budget proposals.

Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence says that in the event Democrats do move toward a second stimulus package, Republicans will insist on steps they insist will be more effective:

"A combination of fast-acting tax relief for working families and small business and we would also add, combined with fiscal restraint," said Mike Pence. "The spending binge that Congress has been on for the past several months is obviously not the cure for what ails this economy."

In a meeting with officials from U.S. states, President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden reiterated their intention to ensure that government stimulus funds are spent wisely, saying instances of abuse if they are found would be deal with severely.