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Obama wants set goals on spending

UNITED States President Barack Obama wants government agencies to lay out specific goals for economic stimulus spending over the next several months, a push to focus more on his US$787 billion recovery plan.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will discuss a renewed emphasis on reviving the economy with Cabinet members during a White House meeting today.

In the wake of reports that the recession could be subsiding, Obama wants to stress that agency heads should make economic recovery a priority during an expected jump in federal stimulus spending this summer, administration officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Biden said on Friday that the administration would "ramp up" recovery efforts. His comments came just hours after the government announced that the unemployment rate for May was 9.4 percent, the highest in more than a quarter-century.

Fewer jobs were lost than expected, but Biden said the White House won't be satisfied until monthly reports show jobs were being added.

Obama's recovery spending isn't likely to satisfy Biden's hopes, although it should be credited with reducing the number of layoffs, said Ken Simonson, an economist with the Associated General Contractors of America.

The construction industry is among the hardest hit by job losses, including steep drops in heavy construction and civil engineering work that relies on private and government spending.

Stimulus money has helped stem job losses, but not enough to make up for cuts in private investment and government spending, he said.

Obama's stimulus program has been criticized by congressional Republicans who argue it does too little and comes too late to revive the economy, and will do more long-term damage by increasing government debt.

A Budget Office report has noted that only US$24.5 billion of the US$787 billion in federal recovery money had been spent by May 22.


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