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Obama promises 600,000 new jobs from stimulus spending

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After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, for example, Congress passed legislation spending billions of dollars. One program was a Community Development Block Grant of $13.3 billion for Louisiana. This money was mainly for contractors, home construction, and bridges, according to D.J. Nordquist, a former Gulf Coast relief staffer. As of May 15, almost 30 percent of the money was still unspent.

“You can only get the bureaucracy to move so fast,” says Ms. Nordquist, formerly with the agency involved in the Gulf Coast redevelopment.

The sheer size of the spending package is perhaps the largest impediment, says Isabel Sawhill, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

In addition, many agencies in the new administration are still not fully staffed. “So the capacity of the federal government is somewhat reduced, and you have a real challenge on your hands,” says Ms. Sawhill, a member of the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton administration.

Confusion is also a factor. The Obama administration is trying to document all the new jobs and projects, leading to uncertainty about reporting requirements.

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