Five years after the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 went into law, the measure, which is better known as the Stimulus or Recovery Act, was roundly criticized once again by Republicans.Please read below the fold for more on this story.
"The Stimulus That Wasn't: Five Years Later, It's Clear Obama's Stimulus Was A Waste Of Taxpayer Dollars," was the headline on an email blast from the Republican National Committee Monday morning. [...]
"If you recall five years ago, the notion was that if the government spent all this money—that, by the way, was borrowed—that somehow the economy would begin to grow and create jobs. Well, of course, it clearly failed," said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, in a video released Monday morning.
But while the economy has yet to fully recover from the Great Recession, it's worth remembering how bad things were and how far we've come:
When the $787 billion federal stimulus was signed into law exactly five years ago this Monday, the U.S. economy was losing almost 800,000 jobs per month. Now? More than 4.2 million jobs have been added since March 2009.Despite today's GOP spin, things would have been even worse without a stimulus. In fact, the mistake wasn't that we had a stimulus—it's that we didn't have enough of it. And the truth is that Republicans know it. How else can you explain the fact that when they campaigned in their states and districts, the Republicans who slam the stimulus in Washington, DC—from House Speaker John Boehner to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio—take credit for it at home?
Also at this time five years ago, the unemployment rate was 8.3% and would climb to a high of 10.0% just months later. Now it stands at 6.6%.
It was a political and policy mistake to not push for a bigger stimulus in 2009—and we cannot lose sight of that fact—but it's also a mistake to let the GOP's stimulus attacks and hypocrisy go unanswered. (Remember how sweet it was to see Vice President Joe Biden take on former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on that issue?)
If Republicans had gotten their way, things would be worse today, not better. And ever since retaking the House, they've consistently obstructed spending on things like infrastructure that would create jobs now and in the future. So when Republicans "blame" the recovery on the stimulus, it's worth pointing out that even though we needed to do more, the stimulus remains the most important thing the government did to help end the recession and begin the recovery. And it's also worth reminding them that ever since then, they've stood in the way of virtually every idea to help grow the economy. Unless, of course, you count 40-plus Obamacare repeal votes as an economic growth strategy.