Senate Supporters of Obama's $787-Billion Stimulus Insist It's Working Despite Declining Economy, Rising Unemployment

By Matt Cover | July 9, 2009 | 7:05 PM EDT

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) (Photo courtesy of Brown's Web site)

Washington ( – Senators who voted for the Obama administration’s $787-billion economic stimulus bill defended its performance, saying that despite a weaker-than-expected economy, the stimulus was not a failure and they were not disappointed in the results so far.
Republican supporters of the Obama economic plan said that even though the administration’s economic predictions proved wrong, the stimulus is still on the right track.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told that the stimulus was not a failure and that the real need was for the administration to spend the money faster.
“It means they need to speed it up a bit,” he said. “[And] do all we can to help create demand for autos and houses and everything else.”
Brown said he was not disappointed in the stimulus, arguing that the economy’s poor performance was a result of past economic policies, not current ones.
“I’m disappointed in what’s happened to the economy,” he explained. “It really comes as a result of the last decade of bad trade policy, bad tax policy, deregulation--all the things that happened. The stimulus was written to deal with an unemployment rate that wasn’t as high as we thought it was going to be, as everybody thought it was going to be.”
Brown maintained that the economy would be worse without the stimulus, despite the fact that even the administration’s own predictions envisioned a better economic picture without the stimulus than the one today.
“I think it’s beginning to work,” said Brown. “I think it’d be worse if we hadn’t done it, like the auto bailout: It would be worse if we hadn’t done it.”
Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) said that the stimulus was working just fine and that it would really kick in next year.
“The stimulus is not failing. As a matter of fact, we’re doing very good,” Burris said. “We’re doing very well, and it’s going to kick in more into the next fiscal year.”
Burris said that he was not disappointed at all, arguing that the economic numbers were not worse than expected, but that the administration just did not understand the economy well enough.
“The numbers weren’t worse. The situation was worse than what they [the administration] had understood. The stimulus is working,” he said.
Even one of the stimulus’ three Republican supporters came to its defense, saying it was never meant to be a “cure-all” and therefore could not be judged as a failure.

In this May 28, 2009 file photo, U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill, speaks to reporters Springfield, Ill. On Friday, June 19, 2009, a prosecutor in central Illinois says there isn't enough evidence to charge U.S. Sen. Roland Burris with perjury for statements he made before an Illinois House impeachment committee. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

“The stimulus was never intended to be a cure-all,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told “I do believe that its impact is being slowly felt and that it has kept unemployment from being higher than it otherwise would be.”
The stimulus’ Republican opponents said the historically high unemployment was absolutely a sign that the stimulus had failed. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he was not even surprised at the bad economic news, because he always knew the stimulus would fail.
“I don’t think it [failed] – I know it,” he told  “I said at the time, there’s no stimulus in the stimulus bill. It was nothing but social engineering and welfare.”
Inhofe said that calls for a second stimulus were pointless. “That’s absurd,” he said. “Why put more money into something that doesn’t work?”

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) (AP Photo)

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) chimed in as well, beginning his weekly press conference with the declaration that the stimulus was a failure and saying that the administration had been wrong on the unemployment numbers and wrong about the impact of the stimulus spending.
“Ohio’s unemployment rate is above 10 percent. The nation’s unemployment continues to rise,” Boehner said. “The administration promised it would keep unemployment below eight percent. They promised the stimulus would create jobs immediately. It’s pretty clear now that the administration was wrong.”
Boehner highlighted as an example of the “wasteful” spending, the fact that $16 million in stimulus money had been spent on protecting the salt marsh harvest mouse, saying it was no wonder the public thought Congress was wrong.
“All the public sees is a lot of wasteful Washington spending, job-killing measures like energy and health care,” said Boehner, who added, “Oh, yes. We’ve got to take care of the salt water marsh mouse. No wonder the American people think we’re nuts.”