Washington Republicans lined up Sunday in opposition to a second economic stimulus package, a rare demonstration of unity from an out-of-power political party in search of a rallying cry against President Barack Obama.
Republicans called Obama’s $787 billion spending plan a “flop” and said it hasn’t fulfilled its hype. They criticized the White House for increasing the federal deficit and doing little to combat an unemployment rate that hit 9.5 percent in June.
“The reality is it hasn’t helped yet,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. “Only about 6.8 percent of the money has actually been spent. What I proposed is, after you complete the contracts that are already committed, the things that are in the pipeline, stop it.”
Obama urged patience with his spending program, which administration officials acknowledge was designed with incorrect or incomplete economic data.
“The stimulus package is working exactly as we had anticipated,” Obama told CNN in an interview from Ghana that aired on Sunday.
“We always anticipated that a big chunk of that money then would be spent not only in the second half of the year, but also next year. This was designed to be a two-year plan and not a six-month plan,” he said.
Republicans, though, were not willing to sit by idly.
“I do think it is fair to say that the stimulus is a flop,” said Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. “The goal that was set when we passed it was unemployment wouldn’t rise past 8.5 percent, and what we see now is businesses just aren’t hiring. Even the best projections have us losing 750,000 more jobs this year.”
Congress passed Obama’s economic stimulus plan over the objection of out-of-power Republican lawmakers. Since then, GOP aides on Capitol Hill and officials alike have seized on the spending’s shortcomings and unfilled promises.
“A lot of it has been spent on ridiculous projects,” said Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was his party’s presidential nominee last year.
Obama’s allies defended the spending they helped usher into law.
“It’s a two-year plan and we’re four months into it,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Some, including billionaire Warren Buffet, have called for a second round of spending to steady the economy. Obama and his allies have said it’s too early to make that decision; his critics, though, pledged to redouble their opposition to any second spending bill.