WASHINGTON — One of President Barack Obama's top allies in Congress said Tuesday that lawmakers must be open to seeking a second economic stimulus package to fight a stubborn recession and create jobs.
"I think we need to be open to whether or not we need additional action," said House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who stressed that it is too soon to assess the $787-billion stimulus approved in February.
Some Democrats have hinted they may favor a second stimulus measure, drawing sharp attacks from Republicans that the giant package approved months ago had demonstrably failed to create or save jobs and turn the U.S. economy around.
"I think it's certainly too early right now . . . to say, you know, it's not working. In fact, we believe it is working," said Hoyer, who hails from Maryland.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed less convinced, saying it was too soon to judge the first stimulus but underlining: "As far as I'm concerned, there's no showing to me that another stimulus is needed."
About 10 percent of the earlier package had been spent, with 90 percent more to come, Reid said, telling reporters: "The crops have been planted, the shoots are now appearing above the ground.
"It's going to move more quickly now," the Nevada senatorsaid .
A top economic adviser to Obama, Laura Tyson, said in Singapore that the United States may need a second stimulus package focused on infrastructure projects to put the world's richest economy firmly on the path to recovery.
Tyson, speaking at the Nomura Asia Equity Forum in Singapore, said it is too early to quantify the size of a second package, adding that "we'll have a much better idea towards the end of the year."
Her comments came after Obama said last month that unemployment probably would climb above 10 percent but that a new injection of government money was "not yet" needed.
However, Tyson said her remarks represented her own views and not the administration's official position.
Republicans said continued job losses proved that the February stimulus, which most of them opposed, had failed and poured scorn on the notion of another package.
"There's no education in the second kick of a mule. Now, why in the world there would be any conclusion reached after looking at the results of the first stimulus that the way to deal with that is to pass yet another one is mind-boggling," Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters.
"I think a second stimulus is an even worse idea than the first stimulus, which has been demonstrably proven to have failed."
Since the recession began in December 2007, the world's biggest economy has lost 6.5 million jobs and the jobless rate has risen 4.6 percentage points.
Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.