White House defends economic stimulus plan. Seventy percent of the plan’s funds were paid out by September 30, with $308 billion spent and $243 billion in tax breaks provided. Polls have shown the plan is unpopular with much of the public and has fallen short of expectations for the economy, even though the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it boosted real gross domestic product in the second quarter by up to 4.5 percent and raised employment by up to 3.3 million jobs.
With the unemployment rate at 9.6 percent in August and expected to have inched up to 9.7 percent in September — data will be released next week — that paper has given Republicans a powerful weapon to argue that the Recovery Act failed. The administration contends that the nation would have been far worse without the plan, given the dire state of the U.S. economy when Obama took office in early 2009. Administration officials said on Friday that very little stimulus money — a few billion dollars, depending how it was calculated — was actually free to be spent. Much of the $233 billion that remains in the fund has been promised but not yet formally spent, and part of it is in tax relief, they said.