Video: Biden: Stimulus making an impact

  1. Transcript of: Biden: Stimulus making an impact

    MR. GREGORY: Eight hundred billion dollar stimulus. A hundred days after it was signed, the president said 150,000 jobs had been created or saved. Can you explain where that number comes from?

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: Sure. Yes, look, there's an econometric model that, that economists have been using for decades to correlate the economic circumstances of the nation with the creation of jobs. It is a model known as question, it's a model the Council of Economic Advisers have used to come up with that 150,000 jobs. But in fact -- and by the way, I think we're going to create 600,000 jobs in the next 100 days , because now this thing is beginning to roll out. We actually have let these contracts, the governors with -- who have money for road contracts and so on, they're now just putting spades in the ground, just hiring people. And so I don't know anybody who's argued with the model that we've used. But the key here for us is not whether or not we're going to argue about how many jobs, you know, there, there are out there, it's whether or not are we in fact producing employment for people? And it's undeniable.

    MR. GREGORY: But -- well, but that's an important point. You say people aren't arguing about that; in fact, they are. I mean, you're suggesting that this is an accepted model.

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: Well, no, I...

    MR. GREGORY: Your own economic adviser said this on Tuesday: "[ Jared ] Bernstein , Biden 's economic adviser, said in an interview that the president's citation of [saving or creating] 150,000 [jobs] is `an estimate' based partly on what the economy would look like in the absence of the stimulus package. But Bernstein said he could not break down how many of those jobs were created vs. saved. `That's a division we're not able to make at a level of accuracy we're comfortable with.' he said." And now you're talking about another 600,000 jobs. Should America just accept that level of progress?

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: Look -- yeah. No, no, they shouldn't. Look, whether this is, whether this was 147,000 jobs or 158,000 jobs is not the relevant point. Look, let me put it this way. Prior to us taking office, the job loss for the month was over 700,000 jobs. It's been over 600,000. Since we've taken office the job loss has dropped now to 343,000 jobs; below other people's estimates, below the consensus estimate. Can I claim credit that all of that's due, due to the recovery package? No. But it clearly has had an impact.

    MR. GREGORY: But the point of the stimulus was it would stop the unemployment picture from getting worse, right? Wasn't that the claim?

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: And it has.

    MR. GREGORY: It has? Well, here...

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: It's not getting worse.

    MR. GREGORY: But here's the reality, and that is...

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: Relative.

    MR. GREGORY: ...that when this report was issued by your economic adviser...

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: Yes.

    MR. GREGORY: ...and Dr. Romer from the White House , the assertion was that you could keep unemployment at 8 percent and then it would go down after that. In fact, it's now at 9.4 percent. Was it oversold?

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: No, look. No. What we did is we took the econometric models that were used by businesses as well as academics. At the time no one realized how bad the economy was. The projections, in fact, turned out to be worse. But it was -- we, we, we took the mainstream model as to what we thought and everyone else thought the unemployment rate would be. But the fact of the matter is the -- I don't think anyone can dispute the unemployment rate would be considerably higher, but for -- at least 150,000 jobs higher, but for this economic stimulus package.

    MR. GREGORY: Right. But the, but this package was sold on the premise that it would in fact keep unemployment at 8 percent. It's exceeded that...

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    MR. GREGORY: ...with the recovery plan .

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: It wasn't sold on that. It was sold on it would create...

    MR. GREGORY: That's what the report said, Mr. Vice President.

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: ...or -- no, it said it would -- what would happen was it would save or create jobs. It's doing that. It is doing that. Everyone guessed wrong, at the time the estimate was made, about what the state of the economy was at the moment this was passed. Now, we're going to recalibrate this in terms of what we've inherited, what in fact is going on out there. But look, the bottom line is that jobs are being created that would not have been there before. All you've got to do is go into New York City . There's 14,000 teachers working who got their, got their notices. Go with me up to New Flyer bus company up in Minnesota , come -- I mean, there -- it's -- throughout the country, it's creating jobs.

    MR. GREGORY: Regardless, though, the economy is worse off with or without this stimulus plan that this administration expected.

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: The economy was worse off when we made the assessment than anyone thought it was. The economy is actually getting better, things are getting better . We have a long, long way to go. But now you see what's happening. We're having a, a situation where housing is starting to improve, where lending is starting to come forward, where we have a situation where we've gained some control of the automobile companies who otherwise would have had to been liquidated in terms of them staying in business and having a prospect of growing. So I think if you ask out there, look -- and look at what the, you know, these measures of confidence in the economy are. Everyone feels mildly better about where the economy 's going.

    MR. GREGORY: One more point about the stimulus, and that is you said when this thing was being debated, most of it would get out the door right away, $800 billion. And yet just this week there were reports about the fact that only 6 percent of that money has been spent so far.

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: No, I don't know who said...

    MR. GREGORY: Where are the projects?

    VICE PRES. BIDEN: ...we're going to get $800 billion out the door in 100 days . We have over 2,000 projects approved. We have now a situation where you have people -- you're going to see in the next -- and let me -- this is an important point. You let a contractor build a highway. It's $42 million, like I was just -- did one in the state of Kansas , $42 million dollars. Now what's happened? The governor, the governor gets that approval. What's he doing? Puts it out to bid, competitive bid. It took somewhere between a month and three months to get those bids back. Now the spades are in the ground. Now it's working. That's why we're confidently going to predict that we will increase fourfold what went -- and now $150 billion -- $140 billion has been obligated now. But obligation requires, then, the states to go forward and get the contracting done according to the rules that they have within the state for competitive bidding.

updated 6/14/2009 2:35:01 PM ET 2009-06-14T18:35:01

Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that “everyone guessed wrong” on the impact of the economic stimulus, but he defended the administration’s spending designed to combat rising joblessness.

Biden said inaccuracies in unemployment predictions shouldn’t undercut the White House’s support of the $787 billion economic revival plan that has not met the expectations of President Obama’s team. Instead, the vice president urged skeptics to look at teachers who kept their classroom assignments and police officers who kept their beats because of financial assistance from Washington.

“The bottom line is that jobs are being created that would not have been there before,” Biden said.

But they are not coming at the pace first estimated.

Just 10 days before taking office, Obama’s top economic advisers released a report predicting unemployment would remain at 8 percent or below through this year if an economic stimulus plan won congressional approval.

Yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment in May rose to 9.4 percent.

Biden said the White House is keenly aware of the gap between the rhetoric used to sell fast passage of the legislation and the reality that has 14.5 million people unemployed. The administration had predicted that the stimulus bill would create or save as many as 3.5 million jobs.

“No one realized how bad the economy was. The projections, in fact, turned out to be worse. But we took the mainstream model as to what we thought — and everyone else thought — the unemployment rate would be,” Biden said.

Those projects came from a report co-written by Biden’s chief economist, Jared Bernstein. Last week, Bernstein briefed reporters on the stimulus spending and insisted the report was in line with others’ research, but not aligned with reality.

“At the time our forecast seemed reasonable. Now, looking back, it was clearly too optimistic,” he told reporters last Monday.

The White House has tapped Biden as its chief spokesman on that economic stimulus plan, sending him across the country to drum up support for a plan that has yet to make the impact it promised. On Thursday and Friday, Biden visited Pennsylvania, Kansas and Michigan to highlight projects the stimulus has funded.

Major Market Indices

The vice president said losses each month have dropped, although the economy is still losing jobs.

“Can I claim credit that all of that’s due to the recovery package? No. But it clearly has had an impact,” Biden said.

Biden said the estimates were based on standard economic models.

“Everyone guessed wrong at the time the estimate was made about what the state of the economy was at the moment this was passed,” Biden said.

Biden appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” from his hometown of Wilmington, Del.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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