WASHINGTON (CNN) – Amid nervousness about states' economies and a growing unemployment rate, the Obama administration is considering a series of measures aimed at putting many Americans back to work before the 2010 midterm elections, sources close to the process told CNN.
The effort is largely being directed by the Treasury Department and Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, one source said.
Ideas include enhancing tax credit flexibility for small businesses, extending unemployment and health benefits and offering states temporary "loan packages" to help governors get through the worst of the recession.
Unlike the stimulus package, the loans to states would be voluntary: "We would like to avoid the stimulus problem," the source said.
Other options being examined by the White House, according to two Democratic sources close to the process, include extending the $8,000 tax credit for new homebuyers, set to expire November 30.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly $1.2 billion in grants from the $787 billion stimulus bill are being made available to help fund use of electronic health records, the office of Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday.
Roughly half of the $1.2 billion is designated to help establish approximately 70 regional centers across the country that will provide assistance to hospitals and medical professionals in selecting and using electronic records. The grant program will provide funding for the regional centers for four years beginning with the federal government's 2010 fiscal year.
The administration expects that the centers will be self-sustaining at the end of those four years, according to material from HHS circulated Thursday by Biden's office.
The remaining $600 million in grants is designated to fund efforts at the state level to come up with mechanisms for information exchange involving electronic health records.
"The grants are designed to help doctors and hospitals acquire electronic health records and use them in meaningful ways to improve the health of patients and reduce waste and inefficiency," Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said in the statement.
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Monday that a "Buy American" provision in his economic stimulus plan had little effect so far on the multibillion-dollar trade partnership with Canada.
Obama told journalists at a summit with the leaders of Canada and Mexico that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has raised the issue every time they have met.
Harper has complained the "Buy American" provision is protectionist and could harm trade relations between the closely linked North American economies.
"This in no way this has endangered the billions of dollars of trade taking place between our two countries," Obama said, standing beside Harper and Calderon at a final news conference.
The Arizona Republican spoke to CNN Chief National Correspondent John King Sunday in a wide-ranging interview on CNN’s State of the Union.
Asked whether President Obama deserves some credit for recent indicators that the recessionary economy has stopped its freefall, McCain said: “I think it’s very clear that the stimulus has had some effect. But, what I worry more than anything about is the long-term effects, because we are committing generational theft.
”We have put trillions of additional debt on future generations of Americans,” he added.
“In the words of the Congressional Budget Office and others, it is ‘unsustainable,’” McCain said.
“The long-term consequences, I think, are going to be, unfortunately, devastating unless we do something about it,” McCain also said.
McCain’s comments come as Democrats have been ratcheting up their efforts to demonstrate the effectiveness of Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan which Republicans say has not benefited the economy or eased unemployment as Democrats promised.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama can't have it both ways on his economic stimulus package, the man he defeated in last year's election said Sunday.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told the NBC program "Meet the Press" that Obama either got it wrong when he predicted the benefits of his $787 billion economic stimulus package in February, or he's wrong now in saying the stimulus is working as intended.
"He's either not leveling now or he wasn't leveling at the time they passed the stimulus package," McCain said.
He cited predictions by Obama earlier this year that the spending plan would hold unemployment to 8.5 percent or less, noting the figure is now at 9.5 percent and likely to continue rising.
McCain also complained that the stimulus plan has failed to deliver the job creation Obama pledged.
"What they promised us would be the result of the stimulus in the short-term has turned out not to be true," he said.
On the same program, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York responded it was too soon to pronounce judgment on the stimulus plan.
“In a little over one hundred days,” Obama says in Saturday’s address, the stimulus plan “has worked as intended.”
“As a result of the swift and aggressive action we took in the first few months of this year, we’ve been able to pull our financial system and our economy back from the brink,” Obama also says.
The nearly $800 billion bill “wasn’t designed to restore the economy to full health on its own, but to provide the boost necessary to stop the free fall,” the president says in his weekly address.
Answering attacks on the stimulus bill in the last week for failing to create as many jobs as projected, Obama says the bill is still the process of yielding projects and employment.
“[I]t’s led to new jobs building roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, thousands of which are only beginning now. In the months to come, thousands more projects will begin, leading to additional jobs,” the president says.
In Saturday’s address, Obama also responds to critics who believe the $787 billion bill is not sufficient to turn around the economy and who are, therefore, pushing for another stimulus package.
“[A]s I made clear at the time it was passed, the Recovery Act was not designed to work in four months – it was designed to work over two years. We also knew that it would take some time for the money to get out the door, because we are committed to spending it in a way that is effective and transparent. Crucially, this is a plan that will also accelerate greatly throughout the summer and the fall. We must let it work the way it’s supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity.”
Saying the stimulus bill passed earlier this year was "full of pork barrel spending, government waste, and massive borrowing," the House Minority Whip also says in Saturday's address that "President Obama's economic decisions have not produced jobs, have not produced prosperity, and have not worked."
Citing the millions of jobs lost this year and a national unemployment rate hovering just under ten percent, Cantor also uses this week's address to assert that the stimulus package has failed to deliver as promised by Democrats.
"Remember the promises? They promised you if you paid for their stimulus, jobs would be created immediately. . . . Yet just months later, they are telling us to brace for unemployment to climb over ten percent. They promised jobs created. Now they scramble to find a way to play games with government numbers by claiming jobs saved.
"Simply put, this is now President Obama's economy and the American people are beginning to question whether his policies are working."
(CNN) - A leading congressional Democrat and Republican both expressed disappointment Sunday with the pace of the government's economic stimulus program, but offered differing views on whether it was a good idea.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said allocating the $787 billion in the stimulus package pushed by President Barack Obama to create jobs was taking too long.
"We're disappointed," Hoyer, D-Maryland, told "FOX News Sunday." "We're looking at ways to get the money out more quickly."
Hoyer's Republican counterpart, Rep. John Boehner, said on the same program that the stimulus bill passed by Congress in February was flawed.
"You can't spend $800 billion of taxpayer money and not create jobs, when you say that's what the bill was for," Boehner, of Ohio, complained. Boehner said the bill only funds more government, rather than creating private sector jobs.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - In two Oregon national parks, your taxpayer dollars are literally going up in flames.
PatRick Environmental is a small business that specializes in preventing forest fires. The firm recently landed a contract, backed by stimulus cash from the Recovery Act, to torch areas of Oregon's Deschutes & Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grass Lands. This controlled burning will promote new growth and thin some trees so that unplanned wildfires don't become unmanageable.
The project is one of thousands being carried out across the U.S. that are putting stimulus money to work shoring up the country's infrastructure and generating much-needed business for local companies.
Full story on CNNMoney.com