From NBC's Mark Murray
In remarks he made before his cabinet meeting today, President Obama acknowledged that the U.S. economy has improved, but also noted that it's still "got a long way to go." And after the unemployment rate increased to 9.4% in May, he pledged that his economic stimulus would end up saving or creating 600,000 jobs in the next 100 days.
Video: President Obama is back in the White House after a high-profile overseas trip. As NBC's John Yang reports, healthcare, the economy, and high unemployment numbers are on his agenda for the week ahead.
More than anything else, Obama said that the most telling measure of economic progress would be if Americans are seeing progress in their own lives. "Our ultimate goal is making sure that the average family out there -- mom working, dad working -- that they are able to pay their bills, feel some job security, make their mortgage payments."
Republicans used Obama's announcement to criticize the stimulus. "Today's announcement is an acknowledgement that the Democrats' trillion-dollar stimulus is not working, and the American people know it," House Minority Leader John Boehner said in a statement.
"When they passed this spending plan, Democrats said it would immediately create jobs, yet nearly four months later unemployment has continued to climb and none of their rosy predictions have come true. These policies are harming middle-class families when they can least afford it, and adding to the massive debt we're passing on to future generations."
RNC Chairman Michael Steele added, "Republicans want to work with the president to get our economy back on track, but the president seems intent on promoting and adopting some of the most liberal and reckless government intervention economic policies we have ever seen."
But in his remarks today, Obama had this answer to his GOP critics: "Now I know that there are some who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still don't believe in the necessity and promise of this Recovery Act. And I would suggest to them that they talk to the companies who, because of this plan, scrapped the idea of laying off employees and in fact decided to hire employees. Tell that to the Americans who receive that unexpected call saying, come back to work. Tell it to the Americans poised to benefit from critical investments that this plan makes in our long-term growth and prosperity."
This is a fight that will continue over the months ahead. But while both sides are trying to score short-term points, the key question -- at least politically -- is this: What will the economy look like come 2010 or 2011?