Sperling Says Stimulus, No ‘Bumper Sticker,’ Held Off Depression

A top White House economic adviser said that, while 2009’s $825 million stimulus package may not protect President Barack Obama from political attacks, it saved the U.S. economy from deeper damage and shows the need for passage of the $447 billion American Jobs Act.

“It may be that, quote, ‘prevented a second Great Depression’ does not read well on a bumper sticker,” Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, said yesterday at the Economic Club of Washington. “But it is an appropriate description of policy choices that dramatically improved and helped the lives of tens of millions of our fellow working families and the global economy.”

The administration’s jobs plan, which cuts payroll taxes and funds infrastructure improvements and state aid for teachers and emergency workers, is needed to increase demand in the economy enough to help bring down unemployment, now at 9.1 percent, Sperling said.

“If we see projections of 1.5 to 2 percent growth right now, that inevitably mean the crisis of long-term unemployment will get even worse,” he said. “The overwhelming cause of the unemployment crisis we face is a lack of economic demand.”

Bracing for Republican attacks on Obama’s past and present economic policies, Sperling said: “We are big boys and girls.”

“We understand that President Obama’s opponents will continue to make the politically expedient argument that –-since we have much further to go to dig out of the historic economic hole he inherited –- the Recovery Act did not work,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at hnichols2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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