Pelosi: Without Stimulus Unemployment Would Have Hit 14.5%

By Edwin Mora | October 6, 2011 | 7:59 PM EDT

( -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that President Obama’s $821-billion stimulus package signed into law in February 2009 “was a success” in creating jobs, adding that “it wasn’t fully appreciated” and that it helped avert a 14.5 percent unemployment rate.

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During a press briefing on Thursday at the Capitol, Pelosi was asked by a reporter , “Do you think that the jobs act will be more or less successful than the [2009] recovery act at creating jobs and, secondly, what do you think are the most significant differences between the jobs act and the recovery act?”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the economic stimulus bill, became law in February 2009. The American Jobs Act, with a price tag of $447 billion, is President Obama’s new economic stimulus proposal, introduced in September It has no Democratic co-sponsors in either the House or the Senate.

In response to the reporter’s question, Pelosi said: “Let me just say, as a matter of fact, that the recovery act saved millions of jobs, saved or created millions of jobs for our economy. Without the recovery act and accompanying federal interventions whether from the Fed, or cash for clunkers or other initiatives, the unemployment rate last year at the time of the election would’ve been 14-and-a-half percent, not 9-and-a-half percent.”

President Barack Obama signed an economic stimulus law, now determined by the CBO to cost $821 billion, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Feb. 17, 2009. (AP photo)

“But if you’re a voter and you don’t have a job, that doesn’t mean anything to you and that’s right, because 9-and-a-half percent is too high,” said Pelosi.  “We were near a depression under the Bush economic policies. We were in a depression and we were in a meltdown of our fiscal situation and we had deep, deep deficits and now we have to dig out of that.”

Pelosi further said: “I believe that the recovery package was a success in terms of job creation. It wasn’t fully appreciated, but the fact is that it made a big difference. It made a big difference in helping us have a running start on electronic medical records, which are going to be job creators and improve quality of care, lower cost, expand access, and again create jobs.”

“Four million jobs will be created by the health care bill and the associated issues like what was in the recovery package on health care alone,” she said.  “So I think it was a success. This is a much smaller package [the $447 billion stimulus]. But the president says it will create 1.9 -- not the president, but those who, was it the CBO or whatever -- that said 1.9 million jobs, it’s a good start, it’s a good start. But hopefully it will have an explosive effect that people with jobs become consumers that help create jobs.”

In selling the first stimulus package, Christina Romer, then-chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, then Vice President Biden’s top economic adviser, projected that with the $821-billion plan, the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009.

However it has been higher than that -- the U.S. unemployment rate has remained above 9 percent for about two years now.