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Pioneer Editorial: Time for stimulus to prove itself

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It's been months since Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into the law the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, yet many of us are still waiting for its effect.

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Perhaps sensing that the American public is becoming anxious as well, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday announced their "Roadmap to Recovery," the administration's effort to accelerate implementation of the stimulus package, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in its second 100 days.

Since the stimulus package became law, the unemployment rate has sunk lower, from 8.1 percent to 9.4 percent for May, with most observers predicting that it will soar past 10 percent before peaking. That in itself doesn't instill much confidence in an economic turnaround.

The United States is incurring a huge debt for the sake of economic stimulus, something that critics are ready to pounce on. While it is certainly unfair to wish bad luck on the president's progress, as would Rush Limbaugh, the time is now for the Obama administration to prove its mark.

The president and vice president on Monday pledged to accelerate the next phase of the recovery act, promising 135,000 jobs that include teachers, principals and staff; 60,000 jobs from improvement projects at 1,500 highway sites and 98 airports -- including Bemidji Regional Airport -- 8,200 jobs from construction work at 200 new water and wastewater systems, 5,000 new law enforcement jobs; 1,275 jobs at 107 national parks; 750 jobs at 1,125 federal health centers.

Many of those jobs will expand government, not the private sector, but hopefully the payroll taxes from those jobs will help push the economy around. The biggest push will be in public works projects, which will hire high-paying private sector construction jobs.

The administration notes that the first 100 days of the stimulus package was geared to provide immediate relief to hard-hit families and communities, jump-starting shovel-ready projects and laying the foundation for large-scale infrastructure improvement programs. Other than most of us getting a few extra bucks in our paycheck, the results of the first 100 days so far has had a minimal effect on the macro economy.

Hopefully, the administration's "Roadmap" will pave the way for the economy to show marked improvement. The best sign will be projects dotted all across the nation, posted with signs that state, "An American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Project."

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