Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finding the Facts in the Stimulus Debate

It has been about one year since President Barack Obama signed the well-known American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Taxpayers across the country are asking where the money has gone, how much is left, and what has been accomplished due to the spending. put together a post with answers to these questions, and a few facts surrounding the stimulus debate. Check out a section of the article below, or head over to for the full text.

Facts are sometimes a casualty in the struggle for power. This comes to mind in the discussion of President Obama's biggest legislative accomplishment, the $787 billion stimulus bill -- more formally called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) -- which he signed into law about a year ago.

Given the intensity of emotions on either side of the debate over the value of the ARRA, it is worth finding some factual answers to the most basic questions about the program. For example, how much of the stimulus money has actually been spent? How many jobs has that money created? How much remains to be spent and how many more jobs will it create?

Finding Some Answers

The answer to the first question is that over a third of the money has already been paid out. According to, of the $787 billion ARRA, $272.2 billion or 34.6% of the funds had been paid out by the end of January 2010. That money has been spent in three areas: $105 billion (38.6%) on entitlements -- such as unemployment benefits, $92.8 billion (34.1%) on tax benefits, and $74.4 billion (27.3%) on contracts, grants and loans.

The number of jobs that the stimulus has saved or created is in dispute. According to The New York Times, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that ARRA has saved or created between 900,000 and 2.3 million jobs. Why the big range? The answer is in the growth assumptions used. CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf testified to Congress in January 2009 that the number of jobs created by ARRA would vary depending on how much additional economic output it produced -- which he assumed would range from 1.3% and 3.6% in 2009. The more output, the more jobs created.

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