(CNSNews.com) – Heading up a Middle Class Task Force roundtable discussion on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden said that one of the benefits of the $787 billion stimulus package signed into law in February is that it has generated new ideas for dealing with economic problems, including unemployment.
Biden said he and Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Council director, have talked at length about ways to “generate new ideas about how to deal with future employment needs,” Biden said. “We have new ideas about how to spend government money wisely.”
He said that there was “virtually no fraud” associated with the spending so far of the billions allocated for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The government, according to recovery.gov, has distributed just over one half of the $787 billion.
“I might add, I’m very proud to say, that’s there’s been virtually no – knock on wood – virtually no fraud associated with the $787 billion program overall,” Biden said as he banged his fist on the table and against his head.
Also taking part in the discussion were two business owners who hired unemployed workers whose pay was subsidized by government funds and two workers who took subsidized jobs.
But the purpose of the event was to push for passage of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010, which extends the Sept. 30, 2010 expiration date of the Emergency Contingency Fund, part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program created by the Recovery Act. The cost of extending the fund to cover future job subsidies over 10 years is estimated at $2.48 billion.
Biden said the Middle Class Task Force was the first thing President Barack Obama did after moving into the White House.
“We want to make it clear to the American people, notwithstanding the fact that the economy is growing and even if the economy were raging at 6 or 8 percent a quarter and the growth of the GDP, that’s not the measure we’re going to use when our term ends as to whether or not we think we were successful,” Biden said.
“The measure will be whether or not those people in the middle class were able to be sustained and stay in the middle class without clinging by their fingernails,” he added.
“And those who aspire to the middle class having an opportunity to get into the middle class,” Biden said. “That really is, really genuinely is the measure of what Melanie and I and the president view as our goal and our measure of success or failure.
“That’s what we’re attempting to turn around, as well as turn the economy we inherited around,” Biden said. “And I think we’re on our way to doing both of those.”
Biden said there was still “a long way to go” for the economy to be what the Obama administration and the American people want it to be, but that the Recovery Act is succeeding.
“There are certain facts that are undeniably clear,” Biden said. “The economy is growing again.
Biden said 500,000 jobs were created in the last two months, the first time that has happened since 2007.
“The truth of the matter is that the Recovery Act is working,” Biden said.
An invited audience watched the roundtable discussion, which took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. No one in the audience or members of the press was allowed to ask questions.
House Democrats have not introduced their final version of H.R. 4213 on the House floor.