Sunday, July 12, 2009

With Unemployment at 9.5%, Obama is Taking Heat

The big political story this week (in addition to (1) continued coverage of Sarah Palin's bizarre resignation and (2) the slow progress of health care legislation) is the increasing sense that the stimulus package is not working.

In particular, people are very nervous that the unemployment rate continues to steadily rise, notwithstanding the Administration's prediction that it would top-out around 8%.

249. How much of the stimulus money has been spent so far? I think Joe Biden said that $99 billion has been spent - is that about right? The stimulus was passed in February, and a number of articles emphasize the slowness of the government contracting process, but given the tremendously fast Chrysler and GM bankruptcy processes, I would think that the Administration could speed-up contract reviews and thereby get funds released and flowing through the economy more quickly. What sorts of pressure is the Administration exerting in order to speed up the process?

On Meet the Press today, one of the commentators said that 20,000 projects have been approved but only 2,000 are underway.

250. Why so much talk about Palin? I understand that people are fascinated by her, but her resignation (and explanation of it) was absurd on its face and there should be some sort of substantive//policy threshold for coverage of national-level politicians.

251. How long until banks start lending more readily again? Is Fannie Mae driving the super-strict loan reviews, or is the federal government?

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