Price: Call back stimulus funds

Georgia Republican wants any unspent dollars returned.

WASHINGTON —- Amid growing debate over the effectiveness of President Obama's economic stimulus program, a Georgia congressman wants to end it and recall any unobligated money that hasn't been spent yet.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, a Roswell Republican who's never hesitant to criticize the Obama administration, calls his bill the "Reducing Barack Obama's Unsustainable Deficit Act." He plans to introduce it in the House today, though it likely won't go very far.

"What I heard when I was back home [over the July 4th holiday] was people saying, 'Stop the madness, stop the spending, stop the bailouts,'" Price said. "That's what this does."

Price's proposal comes as the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act faces increased questioning about how much good it is doing as unemployment continues to rise and the recession drags on.

Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office released a report indicating that the Recovery Act is clearly helping Georgia and other states address budget crises and stave off mass layoffs of state employees. But the GAO also was critical of how some Recovery Act funds are being used and tracked.

Transportation funds to help create jobs, for instance, are often winding up elsewhere, according to the GAO.

At a congressional hearing Wednesday, Robert Nabors, deputy director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, testified that 150,000 jobs had been created or saved by Recovery Act spending.

Even Obama and Vice President Joe Biden acknowledge the Recovery Act isn't having as big an effect as they'd like.

In an interview with the ABC television network, Biden said the administration "misread" the economy. Obama said in Moscow that it appears the administration had "incomplete information" about the severity of the downturn. Still, he said, "there's nothing that we would have done differently."

Other White House officials and some congressional Democrats have said a second round of stimulus funding may be necessary.

Price's proposal would repeal any remaining unspent money authorized by the Recovery Act, and recall any unobligated money authorized by the Troubled Asset Relief Program to bail out banks and other financial institutions.

Price said the moves would save taxpayers more than $600 billion.

Of course, with Democrats firmly in control of Congress and the White House, Price acknowledges his proposal is likely to go nowhere. But, he said, it's a step toward holding the White House accountable and keeping alive the Recovery Act debate.