Money Well Spent? The Truth behind the Trillion Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History

Money Well Spent? The Truth behind the Trillion Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History

Money Well Spent? The Truth behind the Trillion Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History

Money Well Spent? The Truth behind the Trillion Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History

Synopsis

Traces the evolution of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 while offering insight into its fiercely partisan supporters and detractors, explaining how the money was spent and what will be the most likely outcome.

Excerpt

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was the largest economic recovery plan in history. Better known as “the stimulus,” the $825 billion package passed in February 2009 included a mixture of tax cuts, safety net spending, and long-term investments in renewable energy, education, and infrastructure. Adjusted for inflation, it was nearly five times more expensive than the Works Progress Administration (WPA), credited with easing if not helping to end the Great Depression. The stimulus cost more than it did to fight the Iraq War from 2003 to 2010. It was bigger than the Louisiana Purchase, the Manhattan Project, the moon race, and the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. When the various extensions of stimulus provisions are taken into account, the recovery program cost well over a trillion dollars.

Seventy-five years from now, historians will still be debating the effect the federal stimulus package had in ameliorating the Great Recession, just as they do now with the New Deal. Economists and nonpartisan forecasting firms estimate that the Recovery Act created and saved 2 million to 3 million jobs. Without it, they say, the unemployment rate would have reached 12 percent and lingered in the double digits until 2012. When the last dime is spent, more than 41,000 miles of roads will be paved, widened, and improved; 600,000 lowincome homes weatherized and made more energy-efficient; over 3,000 rural schools connected to high-speed Internet. A relatively small pot of education grants goaded thirty-two states to enact major reforms, such as tying teacher pay to student performance or lifting caps on charter schools. At least thirty states liberalized unemployment laws, such as opening up benefits to part-time workers, those in job training, or people who left the workforce to care for a sick relative. The stimulus created an unprecedented buzz around clean energy, popularizing the term “green jobs,” and turning attention to . . .

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