Although the economy continues to struggle, Obama administration initiatives prevented a deeper decline and have helped pave the road to long-term recovery, Sen. Ben Nelson said Friday.
"There are signs of progress," Nebraska's Democratic senator said during a Lincoln interview.
The administration's economic stimulus package helped stop a deep recession from sliding into a global depression, Nelson said.
"It funded public projects, put people to work, helped prime the pump," he said.
Despite all the naysayers, Nelson said, the president ought to receive "high marks" for leading that effort.
"It's undeniable this act has been beneficial," he said, even though "this economy has been harder to turn around than anyone expected."
Lost in the political drumbeat of criticism during an election year is the fact that the stimulus legislation contained $288 billion in tax cuts, Nelson said, returning $346 million to the pockets of Nebraska taxpayers last year and again this year.
"That message got lost" in the political attacks, Nelson said. Opponents were "able to spin it as spending," he said.
Nelson was the only member of the Nebraska congressional delegation to vote for the stimulus package.
On Friday, he spoke at an event trumpeting progress on a trunk sewer project east of North 84th Street and Havelock Avenue that will allow development to begin in the 52-square-mile Stevens Creek Basin.
The federal stimulus legislation provided $1,250,000 in grant money and $1,250,000 in zero-interest loans to help construct a $5 million phase of the 15-mile sewer improvement project.
In addition to jobs provided now, Nelson said, the stimulus-funded project "opens an entire area for business development that will create new opportunities for jobs as homes are built and businesses emerge."
"Things are not turning around as quickly as we all want, but we are coming out of a deep economic hole," Nelson said.
"Everything that is getting done adds another brick to the building."
Reach Don Walton at 402-473-7248 or at email@example.com.