The Recovery Act Blog

  • The Engine of Our Economy

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    If you live anywhere near Virginia, you know there's one issue that's always on Virginians' minds, whether the economy is up or down: transportation.  And so as the Recovery Act keeps doing its job of creating jobs, the rehabilitation of the Fairfax County Parkway Extension is a good example of what the President means when he says that the Act is also creating a new foundation for the country. Nationwide, men and women are going back to work to rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st Century, getting back on their feet and getting our country back on track.
    The President gave a few remarks to the workers there after taking a tour with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:

    Hardworking Americans have borne the brunt of this recession.  They've been laid off in historic numbers; they've seen their hours trimmed and their wages cut; they've lived in fear of being the next ones to be let go.  And that's not right.
    Middle class Americans are the ones who built this country, made it great, and keep it going each and every day.  And they deserve leaders in Washington who are willing to work as hard as they work; who are willing to fight for their futures as hard as they fight for their families.
    We need to all live up to our responsibilities as faithfully as these workers here are living up to theirs.  And that's why our goal is not just to rebound from this recession, but to start building an economy that works for all Americans; where everyone who's looking for work can find a job -- and not just a temporary job, but a permanent job that lasts from season to season; where our stock market isn't only rising again but our businesses are hiring again.  That's our goal.
    And I know that we have a lot of work to do to meet that goal.  But I also know that thanks to the governor here in Virginia, Tim Kaine, thanks to two outstanding senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb, and a great congressman, Congressmen Jim Moran and as well as Congressman Gerry Connolly, and thanks to the work of Ray here and the rest of my administration, we've made some meaningful progress over the last few months.
    President Barack Obama speaks about the Recovery Act during a tour of the the Fairfax County Parkway(President Barack Obama speaks about the Recovery Act during a tour of the Fairfax County Parkway extension project in Springfield, Va., Oct. 14, 2009.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is at left. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

  • Recovery-in-Action-CA-IN-OR-VA

    Yesterday, Vice President Biden announced nine new year-end targets for Recovery Act progress:
    • Batteries for Vehicle Electrification: By the end of the year, the Department of Energy will have put in place funding for battery manufacturing plants that can power 400,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles each year.
    • Military Hospitals: The Department of Defense will begin 34 construction and modernization projects at hospitals and medical centers throughout the country over the next 90 days, making a total of 65 hospitals and medical centers with projects under construction since passage of the Act.
    • National Parks: The Department of Interior will begin on-site construction improvement work in 105 more national parks throughout the country over the next 90 days.
    • Small Business Assistance: The Small Business Administration will provide and leverage $5 billion in capital to over 12,000 small businesses through two key lending programs (7a and 504) in the next 90 days.
    • Fuel-Efficient Bus Purchases: By the end of the year, the Federal Transit Agency will have awarded enough grants to enable the purchase of approximately 10,000 new transit vehicles across the country.
    • Housing Loans and Rehabilitation: By the end of the year, the Department of Agriculture and the Housing and Urban Development Department will have provided housing loans and capital funding to finance, build, or renovate over 100,000 households across America.
    • Renewable Energy: By the end of the year, the Departments of Energy and Treasury will help fund renewable energy projects that will generate enough alternative energy to power 900,000 homes in the United States once completed.
    • Road Projects: By the end of the year, the Department of Transportation will have obligated enough funds to support 10,000 highway projects.

    "We’ve made great progress in the first seven months of Recovery Act implementation in 2009 – now we want to finish the year even stronger," said Vice President Biden. "We want to continue to be ahead of schedule on key metrics, doing all we can to create and save jobs, and building a lasting economic platform for our country."

    While the Vice President was setting new and aggressive benchmarks for the Recovery Act, news media across the country continued to report on its success in creating new jobs as well as spurring innovation in science and technology that can drive the economy for years to come. The Washington Post reports on President Obama's announcement of $5 billion in research grants, including funds that "would be directed to work on genetic research that could identify the causes and cures for ailments ranging from heart and lung disease to blood diseases and autism." The Wall Street Journal reports on a road project that is expected to provide 450 to 600 jobs in California's Inland Empire, an area hard-hit by the housing bubble. "Without the stimulus money, the Interstate 215 project would have been another victim of California's budget crisis," the Journal writes.

    These and other stories from across the nation follow:

    National, [Washington Post, 9/30/09]

    "The National Institutes of Health has awarded $5 billion in grants to support research into cures for cancer and other diseases, and to create jobs. President Barack Obama was making the announcement Wednesday at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The money comes from the $787 billion economic stimulus program that is designed to help create jobs and turn around the economy. The program included $10 billion for the NIH. Jared Bernstein, who is Vice President Joe Biden's chief economist, says the $5 billion will support some 12,000 existing projects and create thousands of jobs over the next two years for researchers and educators, as well as medical equipment makers and suppliers."

    California, [The Daily Sound, 9/28/09]
    "Researchers in a wide array of fields at UC Santa Barbara have received a $36 million boost through the federal economic stimulus package that university officials hope will support the local economy, fuel innovation and train the next generation of scientists…Praising federal leaders for continuing to back higher education, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang said the funding will build upon the ongoing research on campus, leading to more patents, more local companies, more local jobs and more tax revenues. 'All of this is yet more evidence of the tremendous impact UCSB has on the local and regional economy,' he said, noting that 90 companies have been formed in the Santa Barbara area by graduates and faculty members, including nine in the past year. The grants are spread across a broad spectrum of academic topics at the university, from engineering and computer science to geography, psychology and neuroscience."

    California, [Wall Street Journal, 9/29/09]

    "With a federal stimulus grant of $128 million, the San Bernardino project is the country's fourth-largest stimulus investment in a road project. Without the stimulus money, the Interstate 215 project would have been another victim of California's budget crisis …For years, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which are home to the Inland Empire, led California in population growth and home construction, as thousands of families escaping skyrocketing home prices in neighboring Los Angeles County swarmed into the region. The area became the backbone of California's international trade economy and developed into a major thoroughfare and warehousing district for goods coming out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The federal stimulus money will be put toward widening seven miles of I-215, a heavily used cargo and commuter corridor running through the city of San Bernardino. The project is expected to directly employ 450 to 600 workers on the construction site each year for four years, and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy…The stimulus investment could translate into about $380 million in economic activity for the region as construction workers spend on equipment, supplies and personal expenses like food and clothing, said Mr. Husing, the economist."

    Indiana, [Richmond Palladium-Item, 9/30/09]

    "Eleven road construction projects are scheduled for Richmond and Wayne County this fall as a result of recent contract awards, the Indiana Department of Transportation announced this week. All roadbeds will be milled and resurfaced with 100 percent federal funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Milestone Contractors submitted low bids for the following stimulus projects: Contracts of $62,886 and $65,225 to mill and resurface Pottershop Road from Pennville Road .27 miles to Abington, and from Abington for .16 miles to U.S. 27 -- to be completed in early October. $147,292 contract to patch, wedge, level, mill and resurface .65 miles of Salisbury Road including the intersection with Nolands Fork Road -- to be completed in early November."

    Oregon, [Associated Press, 9/29/09]

    "Companies dealing in matters as small as a photon and as large as a harbor dredging vessel are winning contracts that could eventually define how large a jolt Oregon gets from the federal stimulus package. Contracts awarded by federal agencies have attracted less attention than other parts of the recovery package — tax cuts and aid to the state government to maintain schools, human services, unemployment benefits and roads.  Spending on the part of federal agencies is still taking shape, but the contracts are a significant part of the stimulus program, whose variety is remarkable to some who have gotten more familiar with it as they bid for contracts. 'There's money coming out all over the place,' said Margaret Brooks, executive vice president of a Portland temp agency, which was awarded a small contract worth up to $62,000. She said the company would pay engineers working on the reconstruction of the Steens Mountain loop road in southeast Oregon. She said the money would put four people to work, some part time and probably none for long. That project is among 56 planned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Oregon, most resulting in contracts, worth $32 million. Many federal agencies have projects in the works: $3.4 million in stimulus money for dredging at five river mouths along the Oregon Coast, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project, or several smaller forest thinning operations. The announcements trickle out week by week. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, an active announcer for such enterprises as the Portland region's mass transit system, said late last week, for example, that the Klamath Falls Airport in Southern Oregon would get about $667,000 to rehabilitate a taxiway, which soon should result in contracts and jobs.  When the stimulus package was approved in the spring, the Obama administration estimated it would save or create 44,000 jobs in Oregon."

    Virginia, [The News Leader, 9/30/09]

    "When Congress passed the $787 billion federal stimulus package in February, it designated $21.5 billion for research and development …To date, U.Va. investigators have secured more than $38.7 million in stimulus funding for 102 projects across the research spectrum, from medicine to nursing, astronomy to physics, engineering to education, biology and beyond. Funding ranges from thousands of dollars to millions, including a $3.2 million grant to study genetic contributors to diabetes and dyslipidemia in African-Americans, led by medical professor Michele Sale. Other funded projects include a study to improve the healing of diseased or damaged vascular systems, led by biomedical engineer Shayn Peirce-Cottler; a study of extrasolar planets by astronomer Philip Arras; and an investigation into Rydberg atoms to understand connections between classical and quantum mechanics, led by physicist Thomas Gallagher. 'The federal stimulus program is fostering new discoveries that will enhance dissemination of knowledge to the commonwealth, the nation and the world,' Thomas Skalak, vice president for research, said. 'Our researchers are gaining valuable insights into new potential health care diagnostics and therapeutics, creating a more sustainable living environment and discovering the origins of our solar system.' Biology chairman Taylor said he is pleased that the stimulus plan includes significant funding for research. 'It says the federal government understands that science is a priority,' he said. 'This is a huge morale-booster.'"

     

  • "One Job Lost is One Job Too Many, and It's Still Too Much Pain"

    (Vice President Joe Biden holds a Middle Class Task Force meeting on the Economy in the Roosevelt room, Friday, October 2, 2009. Also in attendance were Christy Romer, Larry Summers, Peter Orzag, Terrell McSweeny and Jared Bernstein. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
    This morning, the Vice President discussed the latest unemployment figures, making clear that although things are not on the catastrophic path they were on when the President took office, there will be no rest or celebration until we are creating jobs at a pace to recover what we've lost. In a short address to the press, Vice President Biden outlined the steps the administration is taking to ensure economic stability for Americans:
    We are working hard on every front to turn this economy around.  And as bad as things are, they would be far worse without the recovery plan, or these other efforts.  That's why we've worked hard to accelerate the recovery spending, getting money out the door on schedule; and that's why we announced yesterday nine ambitious goals for the Recovery Act to perform between now and December 31st.    
    Today's tough news is a reminder though that -- as if anybody would need it -- how critical this work is in making the Recovery Act work and why.  As I told the Cabinet assembled yesterday, those efforts need to be redoubled in the weeks ahead.  Let me be clear about one thing:  Today's bad news does not change my confidence in the fact that we are going to recover.  We will be producing jobs.  The American economy and the job engine is going to be created and moving once again. 

  • An Historic Commitment to Research

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    Amidst some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the medical field, the President spoke this morning about his commitment to making a "lasting difference" in the health of the American people—and how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will play a role in creating those differences:
    Now, today I'm here to talk about our nation's commitment to research.  I want to thank Dr. Collins and his team for showing me and Kathleen some of the extraordinary groundbreaking research being done at the National Institutes of Health. 
    The work you do is not easy.  It takes a great deal of patience and persistence.  But it holds incredible promise for the health of our people and the future of our nation and our world.  That’s why I’m here today.  For decades, the NIH has been at the forefront of medical invention and innovation, helping to save countless lives and relieve untold suffering.  And yet, if we’re honest, in recent years we’ve seen our leadership slipping as scientific integrity was at times undermined and research funding failed to keep pace.
    We know that the work you do would not get done if left solely to the private sector.  Some research does not lend itself to quick profit.  And that’s why places like the NIH were founded.  And that’s why my administration is making a historic commitment to research and the pursuit of discovery.  And that’s why today we’re announcing that we've awarded $5 billion -- that's with a "b" -- in grants through the Recovery Act to conduct cutting-edge research all across America, to unlock treatments to diseases that have long plagued humanity, to save and enrich the lives of people all over the world.  This represents the single largest boost to biomedical research in history.  (Applause.)
    Now, one of the most exciting areas of research to move forward as a result of this investment will be in applying what scientists have learned through the Human Genome Project to help us understand, prevent, and treat various forms of cancer, heart disease, and autism.  And having been a leader of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Collins knows this promise all too well.  And it's a promise that we've only just begun to realize.
    In cancer, we're beginning to see treatments based on our knowledge of genetic changes that cause the disease and the genetic predispositions that many of us carry that make us more susceptible to the disease.  But we've only scratched the surface of these kinds of treatments, because we've only begun to understand the relationship between our environment and genetics in causing and promoting cancer.
    So through the Recovery Act, the NIH is expanding the Cancer Genome Atlas, collecting more than 20,000 tissue samples to sequence the DNA of more than 20 types of cancer.  And this has extraordinary potential to help us better understand and treat this disease.  Cancer has touched the lives of all Americans, including my own family's; 1.5 million people will be diagnosed in the next year.  Half a million people will lose their lives.  We all know the terrible toll on families and the promise of treatments that will allow a mother to be there for her children as they grow up; that will make it possible for a child to reach adulthood; that will allow countless people to survive a disease that's claimed far too many lives.
     
    (President Barack Obama talks with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a tour of the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009. Listening are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, left, and Dr. Francis Collins, left, Director of NIH, third from left. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
    A critical part of the President's desire to make strides in medicine is the Recovery Act—under the President’s plan, tens of thousands of jobs will be created in the medical sector:
    Now, we know that these investments in research will improve and save countless lives for generations to come.  And as I was taking a tour with Dr. Collins and Dr. Fauci and others, just listening to the possibility of a HIV/AIDS vaccine, or hearing the latest treatments of cancer that allow people who previously only had resort to the most violent types of radiation or chemotherapy, now being able to take pills and seeing extraordinary progress, it is something that is entirely inspiring.  But we also know that these investments will save jobs, they'll create new jobs -- tens of thousands of jobs -- conducting research, and manufacturing and supplying medical equipment, and building and modernizing laboratories and research facilities all across America. 

  • "I'm Skinny But I'm Tough"

    The President spent this morning with some of those hit hardest by the economic downturn - GM plant workers in Ohio.  In a roundtable with a handful of employees, he praised them for the training and skill they had acquired to do their jobs, and restated his pledge to make that kind of education and training available to the next generation, both for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow.
    President Barack Obama meets with workers during his visit to the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant in Warren, Ohio, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
    Afterwards, speaking to thousands of GM employees, the President delivered good news to a community that might have thought they'd never hear any again:
    Because of the steps we've taken, this plant is about to shift into high gear.  (Applause.)  A hundred and fifty of your coworkers came back to work yesterday.  (Applause.)  More than 1,000 will be coming back to work in less than three weeks as production of the Cobalt ramps up.  (Applause.)  That's worth standing for.  (Applause.)  And next year, this plant will begin production of the Chevy Cruze -- (applause) -- a new car that will get more than 40 miles per gallon.  I just sat in the car.  I asked for the keys, they wouldn't give me the keys.  (Laughter.)  I was going -- I was going to take it for a little spin.  (Laughter.)  But it was nice sitting in there.  It was a roomy car -- 40 miles per gallon. 
    So if you picked up a copy of the Youngstown Vindicator back in January, you would have seen a headline that read:  "Worries mount in wake of layoffs."  A couple weeks ago, you would have read a different story:  "Good news at Lordstown is good news for all."  And today, you made, by the way, some more good news:  I understand that the one-millionth Cobalt rolled off the assembly line late last night.  (Applause.) 
    >So I don't want to just congratulate you, I want to thank you.  You're doing your part to move us forward and make sure that the high-quality, well-engineered, safe and fuel-efficient cars of the future will be built where they've always have been built -- right here in Ohio, right across the Midwest, right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)
    Calling upon workers to maintain a fighting spirit, President Obama thanked Ohio residents for their perseverance and assured that more hope is on the way:
    Now, we've still got a long way to go.  But there is little debate that the decisions we've made and the steps we've taken helped stop our economic freefall.  In some places, they've helped us turn the corner.  Home sales are up; business investment is starting to stabilize.  For the first time in 18 months, we're actually seeing growth in American manufacturing, instead of decline. (Applause.)
    I know that's small consolation when so many people you know are still out of work.  It's going to take some time to achieve a complete recovery.  But I want you all to know, I will not rest until anybody who's looking for a job can find one -- and I'm not talking about just any job, but good jobs that give every American decent wages and decent benefits and a fair shot at the American Dream.  (Applause.)  That's what I'm fighting for every single day.  (Applause.) 

     

  • Recovery Act Milestone - 200 Days

    "You know, it all adds up to this, in my view at least: the Recovery Act has played a significant role in changing the trajectory of our economy, and changing the conversation about the economy in this country.  Instead of talking about the beginning of a depression, we're talking about the end of a recession -- eight months after taking office."
    -- Vice President Joe Biden, September 3, 2009

    One-hundred days ago, Vice President Joe Biden announced the "Roadmap to Recovery," a summer initiative designed to accelerate the Administration’s recovery efforts. Ten major projects – from putting more cops on our streets to keeping more teachers in our classrooms to giving more people access to health care – were announced.

    Today, at the 200-day milestone of the Recovery Act, the Vice President revealed in a letter to President Obama, "I am pleased to report to you that all ten agencies have met or exceeded their commitments." Here are a few highlights:

    • The Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its goal of providing expanded service at 1,129 Health Centers in 50 states and 8 territories – providing that expanded service to approximately 500,000 patients.
    • The Department of Education kept more educators in our schools – meeting their goal of funding over 135,000 education positions across the nation.
    • The Department of Justice put more officers in our communities – funding 4,699 law enforcement officers’ salaries and benefits for three years.
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs met their goal of beginning improvements at 90 Veterans Medical Centers across 38 states.
    Vice President Biden takes a question.(Vice President Joe Biden answers a question after delivering a speech outlining the first 200 days of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC, Thursday, September 3, 2009. To the Vice President's right is Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann.)



    To learn more about the Recovery Act’s progress, visit WhiteHouse.gov/Recovery/Roadmap/. There, you can easily compare the commitments and results of the "Roadmap to Recovery" and also learn about the specific projects happening in your local community.

    At the 200-day milestone, the Recovery Act isn’t just working; it’s working towards something – a more resilient, more transformative, economy. But, there’s more work to be done. On the Recovery blog, we’ll continue telling the stories of recovery in communities across the country. Help tell that story – share your photos, videos or comments about recovery projects happening in your neighborhood.