White House touts stimulus on anniversary

The White House on Monday touted the effects of the massive stimulus bill, signed into law five years ago Tuesday.

“At the time, the country was experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Private employers had already cut almost 4 million jobs, trillions in dollars in household wealth had been wiped out, and the economy’s total output was in the midst of its sharpest downturn of the postwar era,” Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman wrote in a blog post.

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Furman writes that a final report, released Tuesday, from the Council of Economic Advisers affirms that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 “had a substantial positive impact on the economy, helped to avert a second Great Depression, and made targeted investments that will pay dividends long after the Act has fully phased out.”

Furman also notes that Obama has signed into law more than a dozen measures, including a temporary payroll tax cut, extended emergency unemployment compensation and expanded business tax incentives, that extended major features of the Recovery Act and provided new sources of support.

The report released Tuesday finds that the Recovery Act saved or created approximately 6 million job-years, which the council defines as one full-time job for one year.

Combining the effects of the Recovery Act and the additional fiscal measures that followed, Furman writes, the cumulative gain in employment was about 9 million job-years through the end of 2012.

Half of the total fiscal support provided for the economy through the act and subsequent measures, approximately $689 billion, came in the form of tax cuts, mostly directed at families, Furman added.

“While these figures are substantial, they still nevertheless understate the full magnitude of the Administration’s response to the crisis,” Furman wrote. “Because the report released today focuses exclusively on the effects of fiscal legislation, it does not assess other Administration policies that stabilized the financial system, rescued the auto industry, and supported the housing sector—all actions that made significant contributions to spurring the recovery.”

“Five years later, the U.S. economy is undoubtedly in a stronger position, thanks to the grit and determination of our nation's workers and businesses,” he added.

“The economy has now grown for 11 straight quarters, and businesses have added 8.5 million jobs since early 2010. While far more work remains to ensure that the economy provides opportunity for every American, there can be no question that President Obama’s actions to date have laid the groundwork for stronger, more sustainable economic growth in the years ahead.”

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Monday that the $800 billion stimulus package, which was passed in the Democratic House with no GOP votes and approved in the Senate with just three GOP votes, was nothing more than more government spending that hasn't helped the economy.

"The 'stimulus' has turned out to be a classic case of big promises and big spending with little results," he said. "Five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, millions of families are still asking 'where are the jobs?' "