The Recovery Act Failed! Or Not

If one were to listen to most conservative politicians and pundits these days, you'd come away with the impression that the Recovery Act has failed. It hasn't created any jobs and it hasn't helped the economy, so the narrative goes. For instance, here are a few quotes from the past couple weeks:

"All this 'stimulus' spending has gotten us nowhere." -House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)
"[The stimulus] is simply not working." -Greta Van Susteren
"Everyone understands it was a payoff, not a jobs-creator." -Charles Krauthammer
"More people believe that Elvis Presley is alive than the stimulus created jobs." -Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
"[The Recovery Act] increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise." -Congressional Budget Office

Whoops, sorry, that last one was actually a quote from the CBO's new report on the Act's effects on the economy. The independent, non-partisan institution reported that, contrary to what many seem to think, the Recovery Act raised real GDP by between 1.7 and 4.5 percent, lowered unemployment by between .7 and 1.8 percentage points, and increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million. And that was just looking at what happened between April and June 2010.

In other words, the Recovery Act hasn't failed; on the contrary, it's had an immense effect on the nation's economy. The fact that we're still plagued by high unemployment and a faltering economy indicates that the Act wasn't nearly big enough, not that it hasn't worked.

Oh, and for those keeping score at home, the CBO report also revised downwards the cost of the Recovery Act. The total price tag will be about $814 billion, down from the CBO's earlier estimate of $867 billion.

Image by Flickr user calamity1 used under a Creative Commons license.

back to Blog