updated 3/18/2010 11:35:56 AM ET 2010-03-18T15:35:56

President Barack Obama has signed into law a package of tax breaks and spending designed to give the nation a jobs boost.

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In a sunny Rose Garden ceremony, Obama said the legislation will help the private sector start hiring again.

It is the first of several jobs measures promised by Democrats this year. Obama called it essential but "but by no means enough."

The legislation includes about $18 billion in tax breaks and $20 billion into highway and transit programs.

There's plenty of skepticism that the new law will do much to actually create jobs. Optimistic estimates predict the tax break could generate perhaps 250,000 jobs through the end of the year, but that would be just a sliver of the 8.4 million jobs lost since the start of the recession.

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