Obama: "No Such Thing as Shovel-Ready Projects"

President Obama speaks to a group Sept. 8, 2010, at Cuyahoga Community College West Campus in Parma, Ohio. Getty Images

Getty Images

With unemployment hovering near 10 percent nearly two years after President Obama signed his economic stimulus package, Mr. Obama is acknowledging that, despite his campaign promises, "there's no such thing as shovel-ready projects."

The president gave that remark in an hour-long interview with the New York Times.

Mr. Obama also told the Times that he should have "let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts" in the stimulus, rather than including them himself, so the package would have seemed more like a compromise. The stimulus package, which the Congressional Budget Office said this year will cost $862 billion, included $236 billion in tax cuts. Nevertheless, the president said in the interview that he comes across as "the same old tax-and-spend Democrat."

When the president campaigned for the stimulus package at the start of his presidency, he and others in his administration repeatedly insisted the investments would go to "shovel-ready" projects -- projects that would put people to work right away. As recently as August, however, local governments were still facing delays spending the money they were allocated from the stimulus, CBS News Correspondent Nancy Cordes reported.

While Republicans have cast the stimulus, and most of Mr. Obama's other policies, as failed initiatives, the president told the Times he expects more cooperation from Republicans after the midterms.

"It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible, either because they didn't do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn't work for them," he said. "Or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way."

And whether or not Republicans take over Congress, the president said he expects less legislative action in the next two years of his administration.

"Even if I had the exact same Congress, even if we don't lose a seat in the Senate and we don't lose a seat in the House, I think the rhythms of the next two years would inevitably be different from the rhythms of the first two years," he said. "There's going to be a lot of work in this administration just doing things right and making sure that new laws are stood up in the ways they're intended."

Policy or Politics? Obama Learns the Hard Way He Has to Do Both


Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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