One year after the $787 billion economic stimulus plan was announced by President Obama, there are opposing viewpoints as to the effectiveness of that stimulus plan. The government is spending money at a pace that the U.S. has never seen before and the spending is going to ramp up even more heading into year two. Most would agree that the economy still has a long way to go before we can call the recovery spending a success, but few agree on the effectiveness of the recovery dollars that have been allocated so far. Regardless of how you feel about the stimulus plan, here are the facts about what has been spent so far.
– Over the past year, an average of $27 billion a month has been spent on items and projects related to the stimulus plan. During year two of the plan, spending is expected is to increase to $34 billion a month. So far, of the $334 billion worth of spending projects that have been approved, $179 billion has actually been spent.
– Most of the spending so far has been aimed at tax cuts and the funding of direct benefit programs including unemployment reserves and Medicaid. The total amount of money allocated to tax cuts so far has been $119 billion. Spending in year two is expected to be aimed more at projects such as infrastructure, widening the reach of broadband, and healthcare.
– During year 1, an average of $14 billion was spent each month to benefit individuals directly in the form of government benefits. Year 2 spending toward individuals is expected to fall to $11 billion per month.
– The goal is for 70% of the $787 billion worth of stimulus to be allocated by September 30, 2010, and so far the government is confident that they will be able to achieve that goal.
– Recently lawmakers amended the anticipated cost of the Stimulus Plan to $862 billion (although the White House prefers that we continue to use the $787 billion figure).
Proponents of the job that Uncle Sam has done with stimulus spending so far point to the creation of jobs as an indicator of a successful program. In January, President Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor claimed that the stimulus program has created between 1.5 million and 2 million jobs during the first year and called the program, “the great unsung hero of the past year.” During the fourth quarter of 2009, the government website about the Recovery Act claims that nearly 600,000 jobs were created.
There are plenty of opponents to the government spending plan and they’re wondering where exactly those 2 million jobs have gone. The unemployment rate is essentially unchanged compared to a year ago and one republican lawmaker claimed that 2.9 million jobs were lost between the time the stimulus plan was announced and the end of 2009. With the national debt spiraling out of control and resulting in a burden that will be passed on to future generations, it’s no wonder that the recovery plan is under a great deal of scrutiny.
The government has provided a website where people can see exactly where stimulus dollars are being spent. To see more details about the Recovery Act, and exactly how your money is being spent visit www.recovery.gov.