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Questions Surface on Impact of Stimulus Plan

Five months after President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus package, some of the money has begun making its way to states. Experts measure the impact the funds have had on local communities.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, economic stimulus part two, the new debate here. Gwen Ifill has that story.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Nearly five months after President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus bill, some of the money has begun making its way to states and to construction projects. And according to the White House, 150,000 jobs have been saved or created.

    But the economy has shed more than 6 million jobs since December 2007, including 433,000 lost just in June.

    Vice President Biden defended the jump-start package this week, saying the recession was deeper than anticipated.

    JOSEPH BIDEN, vice president of the United States: And so the truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited. Now, that doesn't — I'm not laying this — it's now our responsibility.

    So the second question becomes, did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package, given the circumstances we're in? And we believe it is the right package, given the circumstances we're in.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    But Republicans don't buy that argument. House Minority Leader John Boehner weighed in today.

  • REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio:

    And I found it also interesting over the last couple of days to hear the vice president, Vice President Biden, and the president mention the fact they didn't realize how difficult an economic circumstance we were in.

    Now, this is the greatest fabrication I've seen since I've been in Congress. I sat through those meetings at the White House with the president and the vice president. Trust me: There's not one person that sat in those rooms that didn't know how serious our economic crisis was.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    With the nation's unemployment rate now at 9.5 percent, lawmakers are now discussing whether a second stimulus may be needed.

    For a closer look at the stimulus package, how it is or is not fulfilling expectations, we turn to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. He has consulted with Congress and the White House during the current crisis.

    And House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.

    We have invited and also hope to be joined by Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    Mark Zandi, I'll start with you, because you were at ground zero in all of this when people were talking about the need for a stimulus plan. Is it working?

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