President Obama today promised to deliver more than 600,000 new jobs this summer with accelerated spending of some of the $787-billion economic stimulus that Congress approved at his urging earlier this year.
The boost in employment will not offset the job losses of recent months -- with more than 1.6 million jobs shaved from the economy since Congress approved the stimulus plan in February. Unemployment last month reached 9.4%, the highest since 1983.
But the president, who plans to meet with economic advisors and his Cabinet at the White House today following his return from a five-day foreign trip, will promise hundreds of thousands of new jobs with increased spending on maintenance projects at military bases, about 1,600 road and airport projects, the hiring of some 135,000 teachers and other school staffers and 125,000 summer jobs for youth under the supervision of the Department of Labor.
"We have a long way to go on our road to recovery, but we are going the right way," Obama said today in a statement issued by the White House.
"Our measure of progress is the progress the American people see in their own lives," the president said in the statement. "And until that progress is steady and solid, we're going to keep moving forward. We will not grow complacent or rest. Surely and steadily, we will turn this economy around."
At today's Cabinet meeting, Obama and Vice President Biden will present a "Roadmap to Recovery," an outline for accelerating spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved in February.
It identifies 10 major projects targeted during the next three months. "As a result of this accelerated pace of activity, over 600,000 jobs are expected to be created or saved by the Recovery Act in the second 100 days -- four times the number created or saved in the first 100 days," the White House said in a statement released this morning.
"We've laid a good foundation in the first 100 days of the Recovery Act, and in the next 100 we plan to build on that foundation and accelerate our efforts so we can accomplish even more," Biden said. "We're going to get more dollars out the door, more shovels into the ground and more money into the pockets of workers and families who need it most."
Republicans remain critical of the stimulus spending plan that passed the House without a single Republican vote and won the support of just three from the GOP in the Senate.
"I think the economy is just as likely to begin to recover on its own, wholly aside from this, before much of this has an impact," says Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "So I'm very skeptical that this massive sort of spending binge that we've engaged in is going to have much of an impact."
With the passage of the plan, Obama promised that 3.5 million jobs could be created or saved in the next few years. Yet unemployment still has climbed higher than expected, nearing double digits at the start of the summer.
The president's approval rating for his handling of the economy also has slid from 59% in February to 55% in the latest Gallup Poll, which also found that his disapproval rating on the economy has risen from 30% to 42% -- even while Gallup's measure of "consumer mood" has grown more positive since March.
Obama's approval rating on foreign affairs has risen from 54% in February to 59% in the latest survey, though the May 29-31 poll on which these rankings were based was conducted before his latest trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where he delivered an address to the Muslim world.
"This latest Gallup Poll shows that the U.S. public has significantly differentiated views on various dimensions relating to Obama," reports Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll. "Americans have become increasingly less positive about Obama's handling of the economy in recent months. . . .
"The good news for Obama is that the public continues to be quite positive when asked to rate him as a person and to rate his overall job performance -- both of which are presumably summaries of Americans' views of their president across all of the ways in which he could be evaluated," he notes. "Obama's favorable rating is higher than were those of Bush or Clinton at this point in the first months of their presidencies, and his approval rating is also higher than those for Bush, Clinton or Bush the elder in May of their first year in office."
The poll of 1,017 adults carries a possible margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
These are the targeted projects for accelerated spending, according to the White House:
* Enable 1,129 health centers in 50 states and eight territories to provide expanded service to about 300,000 patients (Department of Health and Human Services).
* Begin work on 107 national parks (Department of the Interior).
* Begin work on rehabilitation and improvement projects at 98 airports and more than 1,500 highway locations throughout the country (Department of Transportation).
* Fund 135,000 education jobs including teachers, principals and support staff (Department of Education).
* Begin improvements at 90 veterans medical centers across 38 states (Department of Veterans Affairs).
* Hire or keep on the job about 5,000 law enforcement officers (Department of Justice).
* Start 200 new waste and water systems in rural America (United States Department of Agriculture).
* Begin or accelerate cleanup work at 20 Superfund sites from the national priority list ( Environmental Protection Agency).
* Create 125,000 summer youth jobs (Department of Labor).
* Initiate 2,300 construction and rehabilitation projects at 359 military facilities across the nation (Department of Defense).Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times