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.
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.