(CNN) - The Obama administration stepped up its defense of the controversial $862 billion economic stimulus plan Tuesday, releasing an analysis which concludes that the measure is helping to spark major technological advances in energy production, among other things.
According to the analysis, the package's $100 billion "innovation" investment has helped put the United States on track to cut the cost of solar power by 50 percent in the next five years.
The report also predicts that the cost of electric vehicle batteries will drop 70 percent by 2015. The country's total capacity to generate renewable energy, it says, will double by 2012.
Additionally, the analysis says that medical investments funded by the Recovery Act will lower the cost of a personal human genome map to under $1,000 over the next five years - a development that could have significant ramifications for health care.
(CNN) - With midterm elections less than three months away, outspoken members of both political parties tried Sunday to blame the nation's economic woes on the fiscal policies supported by their rivals.
In an interview on CNN's State of the Union, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, accused congressional Republicans of "gambling" with Americans' retirement savings.
"If you privatize Social Security … the end result will be that that money is not there," Van Hollen told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "There is not a stable source of retirement money because we'll be literally gambling it on Wall Street. And that has been a long-held position of our Republican colleagues."
Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California dismissed the accusations as "scare tactics" designed to distract Americans from the 9.5 percent unemployment rate.
"Republicans want to secure it [Social Security] and make it there for the future," McCarthy said. "One of the reasons why it's actually losing money right now is because there are so fewer jobs out there and fewer people are paying in."
Watch the debate, after the jump:
(CNN) – House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, welcomes President Obama to Michigan Thursday with a scathing critique of his economic policies.
"When President Barack Obama speaks in Holland today, I hope that instead of trying to convince the people of a city suffering from 11.8 percent unemployment that our economy is 'moving forward,' he will listen closely when they ask, 'Where are the jobs?,' Boehner wrote in an editorial that appears in Thursday's edition of The Detroit News.
In the op-ed, Boehner said that since February 2009 the economy has lost three million private sector jobs while the federal government has added more than 400,000 jobs.
"More government, fewer jobs: This isn't the picture of recovery; it's the epitome of failure," the top House Republican wrote.
The president is scheduled to travel to Holland, Michigan to appear at a plant that produces batteries for electric vehicles. The plant is funded by a grant from Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan.
Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration wants to boost the staggering U.S. economy by boosting exports and offering small-business tax credits, but the prospects for additional stimulus spending are weak, the president's top political adviser conceded Sunday.
"Everybody agrees we have to do more," David Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union." He said the administration has boosted the economy with its first stimulus package, which it pushed through Congress shortly after taking office in 2009, and Obama has pledged to double U.S. exports in five years, but, "We
have to accelerate that."
But with members of Congress expressing increasing concern about the budget deficit, which already tops $1 trillion for a budget year that ends in September, Axelrod admitted there's "not a great desire" for additional government spending.
Youngstown, Ohio (CNN) - President Barack Obama took his economic recovery message on the road Tuesday, heading to the heart of the Rust Belt to defend his administration's controversial stimulus plan and take credit for reversing the recent downturn.
The president tore into the plan's opponents, attacking them for what he claimed is political hypocrisy and a defense of failed policies.
He made his remarks during a visit to an Ohio plant that manufactures steel pipes for the oil and gas industry. In February, the Vallourec and Mannesmann Star factory used funds from the $862 billion stimulus package to add more than 300 jobs.
The package - strongly criticized by Republicans for failing to more dramatically lower near double-digit unemployment - was "the right thing to do," Obama said.
"Now, we've got a long way to go ... but despite that sobering reality, and despite the naysayers in Washington, who look for the cloud around every silver lining; the fact is that our economy is growing again."
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Think states have made deep spending cuts? You ain't seen nothing yet.
States have been struggling with huge budget gaps since 2008, but this year could be worse as federal stimulus funds wind down.
Until now, stimulus money spared governors and state lawmakers from making some of the most brutal budget cuts. But with this lifeline running out, officials are looking at making significant cutbacks to public services, particularly schools and health programs.
"The stimulus funds have staved off what could have been even deeper cuts," said Todd Haggerty, policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "You're seeing states now are coming to that point where they will have to make additional cuts or find new sources of revenue for fiscal 2011 and that will continue in fiscal 2012."
Washington (CNN) - The White House announced Tuesday that 15 U.S. communities will receive grant money to launch new health information technology programs.
Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius named the "Beacon Communities" that will receive more than $220 million in economic stimulus funds for technology to help coordinate medical care involving doctors, hospitals, community health centers and patients.
The programs are also expected to create dozens of jobs in each of the 15 communities - jobs that will pay an average of $70,000 a year, Biden said.
He called the program a "win-win-win" because it helps improve health and safety while increasing efficiency and creating jobs.
The Beacon Community funds help build a technological infrastructure to allow doctors, hospitals, businesses and families to more easily and securely transfer and share information, all on the internet, Biden said.
According to the White House website, the 15 communites receiving Beacon designation and funding are:
(Read Hoekstra's complete remarks after the jump)
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Five more states will receive federal funding to help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure, the Obama administration announced Monday.
Last month, President Obama unveiled the Hardest Hit Fund, which pumped $1.5 billion into state housing agencies in California, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Michigan. These five were originally identified because they had been hardest hit by the housing bust, with prices declining more than 20%.
Now, an additional $600 million is being doled out to the five states that have the largest number of counties suffering unemployment rates above 12%: North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
"The goal for our second set of awards was to identify states suffering from high shares of populations living in concentrated areas of economic distress," said Alan Krueger, Treasury assistant secretary.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The Congressional Budget Office hiked its forecast Tuesday for how much the stimulus bill will add to the nation's deficit, raising its estimate by $75 billion to $862 billion.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in February 2009, was initially believed to have a price tag of $787 billion. With the glaring exception of skyrocketing unemployment compensation costs, the CBO said the Recovery Act's effects on government spending and revenues have closely followed its initial estimate for 2009 and 2010.
The vast majority of the increased deficit impact is linked to anticipated spending in 2011 to 2019. It now appears to the Budget Office that stimulus will have a larger impact on the deficit in the years to come based on changing economic factors since the bill was signed into law 11 months ago.