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Kai Ryssdal: Even if, as the chairman of the Fed himself says, the recession is over, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Unemployment’s still rising. Consumers are still gun shy. So Democrats in Washington are talking about what else they could do to get the economy moving. Whatever you do, though, don’t call it another stimulus plan. Marketplace’s Steve Henn has the details.
STEVE HENN: The ideas include extending unemployment insurance and health benefits. Continuing the federal government’s big tax credits for first time home-buyers. Even giving employers a $3,000 tax credit for each new hire.
But it’s worth noting that close to half-a-trillion dollars from the president’s first stimulus package still hasn’t been spent. More than $200 billion went to state governments and for tax credits, but when it comes to big projects…
ERIC GILLESPIE: Only about $30 billion has actually been awarded to contractors.
Eric Gillespie tracks the stimulus at Recovery.com.
GILLESPIE: That doesn’t actually mean $30 billion has been spent.
Once a contract is awarded it takes a while to hire workers and get a project off the ground.
Gillespie says there are literally hundreds of billions for renewable energy projects and health IT that haven’t hit the economy yet.
Still, Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research says the administration is right to want more.
DEAN BAKER: They are looking at projections for unemployment that are really pretty dire.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts unemployment next year will average more than 10 percent.
BAKER: We would ordinarily consider that horrible.
And as Democrats in Congress know 2010 is an election year.
BAKER: So they can’t be satisfied with that prospect.
But any new spending is likely to raise some hackles on Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers have been attacking the administration for reckless spending for months.
In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.
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