Obama admin. comes out swinging on stimulus plan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Countering Republican criticisms of its economic recovery package, the Obama administration asserted this week that its $800 billion plan meets high standards of economic necessity, transparency and cost-effectiveness.

In a teleconference with reporters, Thursday Feb. 5, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated, 'The American Recovery and Re-Investment plan will immediately jump start job creation and foster long-term economic growth.'

The administration predicts the recovery package will create or save up to 4 million jobs over the next two years. 'Every economist and analyst the president has spoken to has confirmed that the recovery plan will meet this goal,' LaHood noted.

'It's no secret that the economy is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, and the president has called for unprecedented action,' the Republican Transportation Secretary added.

The package will create jobs in a large number of industries from clean energy to health care, administration officials believe. Ninety percent of the jobs, LaHood added, would be in the private sector.

Approximately $100 billion of the spending portion of the package is designated for public infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and rail – projects that are ready to go, meet environmental standards, and will create jobs starting this spring, LaHood stated.

LaHood told reporters that his department has already created a team of experts, called the 'tiger team,' to ensure that money designated for transportation projects will 'be spent rapidly, legally, and wisely.'

The Transportation Department's plan is in keeping with the President Obama's pledge to ensure that all projects funded under this recovery package will be available for public scrutiny, LaHood said. 'We're going to do that without earmarks,' he added. 'The president has made that clear.'

Anyone will be able to go to a new White House Web site, , and find out how taxpayer dollars are being spent as part of this package.

LaHood pledged to work with the country's governors to designate which public infrastructure projects are ready to go now and should be prioritized.

Secretary LaHood's meeting with the press appeared to be part of a larger push by the Obama administration to help pressure the US Senate to pass the recovery package.

Earlier in the week, the White House released state-by-state estimates () of the numbers of jobs that could be created or saved, the tax savings workers would enjoy, and the numbers of schools that would be renovated if the package is passed.

Those estimates show that a state like Michigan, with the highest unemployment rate in the country and whose Republican House members unanimously voted against the recovery package, could see about 115,000 jobs created or saved in the next two years.

Florida could see over 218,000 jobs created or saved and 485 schools modernized and renovated. More than 151,00 jobs in Pennsylvania, 141,000 jobs in Ohio, and 16,000 in Maine could be saved or created with an injection of new federal dollars under the president's stimulus plan.

Tens of millions of workers would benefit from direct tax savings and hundreds of thousands of families would be eligible for tax credits to help cover the costs of a college education.

In a visit to Maryland, Thursday Feb. 5, to promote the public infrastructure benefits in the recovery plan, Vice President Joe Biden said, '400,000 jobs will be created over the next two years nationwide if we invest in improving and upgrading our nation’s infrastructure, including mass transit systems, highways, bridges and ports.'

According to the Vice President's estimate a full 10 percent of the total project job creation under the economic stimulus plan would be in public infrastructure projects alone.

The Obama administration has also directly appealed to its strongest supporters through Organizing for America, a national organization that grew out of his historic campaign. Tens of thousands of Organizing for America volunteers are expected to meet, Friday, Feb. 6, in thousands of house meetings across the country to help pressure the Senate and the whole Congress to finalize and pass the economic recovery package as soon as possible.