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Does US Need a Second Stimulus Plan?

A White House official says the administration is not discussing the idea 'at this point.' A report showed that 90 percent of aid money spent so far has gone to health and education programs. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Last month more Americans than expected lost their jobs. Job losses had fallen every month since January. The news raised questions about the strength of progress toward economic recovery. Unemployment is at twenty-six year highs. The jobless rate in June was nine and a half percent.

That is already a lot higher than President Obama's advisers had predicted for later this year, even if Congress passed a stimulus bill. Congress did that in February with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It contained seven hundred eighty-seven billion dollars in spending increases and tax cuts to strengthen the economy.

That bill was a compromise between calls for more spending and concerns about the rising national debt. Most of the money has yet to be spent. But already some lawmakers and others are saying the economy might need more.

"No one in the administration is talking about a second stimulus at this point." Those were the words of Rob Nabors, deputy director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget. He told a hearing in Congress on Wednesday that the administration is mainly concerned with the current recovery plan.

Still, even President Obama left open the possibility when he signed the recovery act into law in February.

BARACK OBAMA: "Now I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems. Nor does it constitute all of what we're going to have to do to turn our economy around."

One concern is the possible effect of additional spending on the budget deficit. This year's federal deficit is already predicted to be the highest in relation to the economy since World War Two.

Laura D'Andrea Tyson is on the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. On Tuesday she suggested that the administration should plan for the possibility of additional aid. Rob Nabors told the congressional hearing that she did not represent the administration.

The Government Accountability Office reports that state and local governments have received twenty-nine billion dollars so far. It arrived quickly. But ninety percent has gone to health care for the elderly and education programs. Only a small part has gone to bridges, roads and other infrastructure -- projects that can put people to work more quickly.

The report led Republicans to say the recovery plan passed by Democrats is failing. But members of both parties have suggested they might support new stimulus measures to end the recession.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.