WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- On the one-year anniversary of signing the $787 billion economic stimulus, U.S. President Obama said Wednesday the package prevented another depression.
Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, "a second depression is no longer a possibility," Obama said. "It's one of the main reasons the economy has gone from shrinking by 6 percent to growing at about 6 percent."
He used the occasion to note the latest government figures indicated manufacturing production posted a strong gain last month.
"So far, the Recovery Act is responsible for the jobs of about 2 million Americans who would otherwise be unemployed," Obama said. "These aren't just our numbers; these are the estimates of independent, non-partisan economists across the spectrum."
Obama derided congressional Republicans, saying they've "tried to score political points by attacking what we did, even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts."
But controversy surrounding the massive bill also is generated because despite successes, millions of Americans are unemployed or struggling to stay afloat, the president said.
"So it doesn't yet feel like much of a recovery," Obama said. "It's why we're going to continue to do everything in our power to turn this economy around."
The Recovery Act wasn't meant to save every job or fully restore the U.S. economy, Obama said.
"Businesses are the true engines of growth; businesses are the engines of job creation in this country. They always will be," he said. "But during a recession, when businesses pull back and people stop spending, what government can do is provide a temporary boost" to workers, families, consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs.
"So our work is far from over, but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis," Obama said.
The top House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, ridiculed the stimulus package, saying, "Well, here we are a year later and we have lost 4 million jobs and our unemployment has skyrocketed."
Brady, saying only 6 percent of Americans said they thought the stimulus created jobs, called for unspent funds to be returned to the Treasury.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer celebrated the anniversary by posting a 10-question quiz about funding for programs and percentages of individuals and businesses helped by the Recovery Act on his Web site.