It gets more difficult by the day to figure out exactly where the Obama administration stands on their stimulus plan. Early this week the spin seemed to be that we need to give the stimulus a chance to work, that only a small part of the money had been put to work and blah, blah, blah. Now Peter Orszag says on his blog that they are ahead of schedule in spending the money.
Today on Capitol Hill, OMB Deputy Director Rob Nabors testified in front of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee about the Recovery Act. A major focus at the hearing was a report issued today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the non-partisan, independent government watchdog. GAO found that Recovery Act spending was ahead of schedule and was helping to mitigate the economic downturn.
So the line of the day is that the money is getting out there (translation we’re efficient and getting the job done) and things would be much worse were it not for our efforts. If you read between the lines, this is an offshoot of the claim to create or “save” jobs. In fact, in his post Orszag stakes out some claims to having “saved” 14,000 New York City teachers’ jobs.
I think this is an attempt to temper all of the second stimulus talk and set the stage for a pretty tepid recovery if one does indeed materialize. The administration knows it can’t get more stimulus, climate and health care legislation through this year. Better to start setting expectations low now for the 2010 economy and hope that the dice don’t come up craps.