POLITICS
02/23/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Stimulus: More Than $600 Billion In Next 18 Months

Aides to Barack Obama said the president is likely to spend more than $600 billion in stimulus cash in the next year and a half alone.

The president's OMB Director, Peter Orzag, sent a letter to Senator Kent Conrad on Friday that stated the administration would pursue a 75 percent "spend-out rate" for the stimulus package "over the next year and a half (the rest of fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2010)."

"We are committed to maintaining at least a 75 percent spend-out rate for the package as a whole as the legislation moves through the Senate and House and into conference."

If that number ends up staying true, it could mean an influx of massive amounts of money in a very short period of time. Estimates of a stimulus package have hovered around $850 billion. Seventy-five percent of that would equal $637.5 billion.

Orzag's letter was meant to address concerns raised in the form of a Congressional Budget Office report that the money in any recovery package would come too late to have a demonstrative effect.

"A report by the Congressional Budget Office found that only about $136 billion of the $355 billion that House leaders want to allocate to infrastructure and other so-called discretionary programs would be spent by Oct. 1, 2010. The rest would come in future years, long after the CBO and other economists predict the recession will have ended..."

Asked about the report on Friday, spokesman Robert Gibbs said the CBO was working off a antiquated analysis of the package, and hadn't taken into account tweaks and provisions already in discussion by the Obama economic team.

"We believe looking at the package that exists, that 75 percent of the money will be spent out during an 18-month period of time to great stimulative affect. The CBO looked at only a portion of that legislation... a snapshot in time that has now passed," he said. "There are tweaks to be made and in some case have been made to ensure that three-fourths of the package will be spent in the first year and a half."