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Obama Signed the $787 Billion Stimulus Into Law 10 Years Ago On This Date

How do you feel about the stimulus on its 10th anniversary?

by Countable | 2.17.19

On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka the stimulus bill) into law, which aimed to lessen the impact of the Great Recession by spending $787 billion on economic relief infrastructure, education, and renewable energy programs.

Why did it come up?

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 had a significant impact on the U.S. economy and caused the unemployment rate to jump from 4.6% in August 2007 to 6.5% in October 2008.

Concerns grew about the possibility of a complete collapse of the U.S. financial system, so that month the administration of George W. Bush and a Democratic Congress approved a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street and General Motors ― but the economy continued to deteriorate.

What did the stimulus bill do?

Of the $787 billion the stimulus provided, about $288 billion was focused on tax incentives for individuals, while $144 billion went to financial relief for state and local governments. The remaining $357 billion in spending went to investments in infrastructure and energy efficiency, and funding the extension of unemployment benefits for Americans out of work.

The bill included the following provisions aimed at helping individuals:

  • Extended unemployment insurance (the first $2,400 of which was tax free), increased food stamp benefits, and provided a one-time cash payment to recipients of Social Security, and those receiving pensions as veterans or employees of railroads and states.
  • Provided $400 tax credits for workers ($800 for couples) in 2009 and 2010, increased the earned income tax credit, and broadened access to the child tax credit.
  • It also provided a $1,500 credit for home energy efficiency projects and an $8,000 credit for homes purchased in 2009.

The stimulus included $105 billion that was targeted toward infrastructure projects touted as sources of “shovel ready jobs” by President Obama, including:

  • $27.5 billion for highway and bridge construction projects.
  • $8 billion for passenger rail projects and another $6.9 billion for new equipment for public transportation projects.
  • $7.2 billion for broadband and wireless Internet access expansion.

The stimulus bill divided Congress along party-lines, with Republicans expressing a preference for less government spending and more tax relief. Ultimately the bill passed the House in a 246-183 vote that saw seven Democrats join all Republicans in opposing it, while in the Senate three Republicans joined all Democrats and Independents to approve it 60-38.

President Barack Obama offered the following statement when he signed the stimulus bill into law:

“We have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression. Economists from across the spectrum have warned that failure to act quickly would lead to the disappearance of millions of more jobs and national unemployment rates that could be in the double digits… However, with this Act we begin the process of restoring the economy and making America a stronger and more prosperous nation.”

The Obama administration established a website, Recovery.gov, to allow the public to track funding for projects and put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of oversight. In the summer of 2009, Biden told a roundtable of business leaders that "we know some of this money is going to be wasted" but that "our credibility depends on transparency".

What has its impact been?

Hopes that the stimulus would stem the tide of job losses were quickly dashed, as the unemployment rate rose from 8.3% in February 2009 to a peak of 10% in October of that year. The unemployment rate didn’t drop below 9% again until September 2011. During the debate prior to the bill’s passage, the Obama administration touted projections that if the stimulus were enacted the unemployment rate wouldn’t exceed 8% and would’ve been under 7% by September 2011.

Supporters of the stimulus argue the recession was deeper than anticipated and that the bill kept the unemployment picture from getting even worse than it could’ve been. There were also steeper regulatory challenges to implementing many of the stimulus’s provisions than were anticipated, causing President Obama to remark at a Jobs Council meeting that “shovel ready was not as shovel ready as we’d expected.”

The stimulus package has also been criticized for some of the investments it made that didn't pan out. For example, a solar panel manufacturing company known as Solyndra was awarded the first federally-guaranteed loan under a renewable energy program funded by the stimulus, to the tune of $535 million in September 2009. Despite receiving $500 million of that loan over the course of the following two years, Solyndra ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy in September 2011.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was required by the bill to periodically report on the impact of the stimulus, and found its effect on employment began to decline at the end of 2010 and continued to do so through 2014. In Q4 of 2010, the CBO estimated that the stimulus supported between 0.9 and 4.9 million full-time equivalent jobs ― by late 2014 that figure dropped to less than 0.1 million.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Pete Souza / Public Domain)

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(149)
  • J. scott
    02/17/2019
    ···

    Thanks Obama we are still enjoying the benefits of your stimulus and your economic polices generally even today — even with Trump’s Voodoo economic policies — with apologies to Voodoo its more coherent than Trump’s mess. You can’t really call it policy. Shameful really.

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  • NoHedges
    Voted Apathetic
    02/17/2019
    ···

    How do I feel about it being ten years? I miss Obama’s pragmatic GenX leadership. Obama was a bridge between the generations. He was tech savvy, but not tech dependent. Obama was loyal to this country, he knew how to lead, but wasn’t so obsessed with his own ego. He knew when to step back and when to lead by example.

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  • Dave
    Voted Happy
    02/17/2019
    ···

    We (Obama) have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression. the US, EU, Japan and other bale out the banking industry to avoid a collapse around the world. This was inherited from a conservative republican senate, congress and president, just like in the 20’s and more than half the wealth was at the top 1%. After the collapse in the 20’s taxes went to 90% on the wealthy, right now the wealthy may pay 15%. Reagan, Bush and now Trump tax cuts, that they have given to the wealthy, here we are again, a condition ripe for another collapse. History may repeat itself? Also nothing is shown in the stimulus package that anything went to the wall, but could have. The stimulus pay for itself!

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  • Mark
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    The ultimate Manchurian candidate. Obama loaded more debt on the USA than ALL previous presidents COMBINED over 223 years! Treason? You decide.

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  • Brian
    Voted Happy
    02/17/2019
    ···

    Impeach trump

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  • Miles
    Voted Apathetic
    02/17/2019
    ···

    This package by Obama included portions of border walls/fencing on the northern border. I guess walls are necessary unless they keep out Hispanics, who you then try to brainwash to enlarge your liberal voting base. Even with this, it was the worst recovery from recession in 70 years. Liberal economics rather useless again.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    🤔 PRESIDENT OBAMA’s DEBT CEILING & EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY Under Obama the debt ceiling increased: by $789 billion to $12.104 trillion in February 2009, Obama's first year in office, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; by $290 billion to $12.394 trillion ten months later, in December 2009; and by $1.9 trillion to $14.294 trillion two months later, in February 2010. Also a FYI: The list of people who were granted executive clemency by Barack Obama. By the end of his presidency on January 20, 2017, Barack Obama had exercised his constitutional power to grant executive clemency—that is, "pardon, commutation of sentence, remission of fine or restitution, and reprieve"—to 1,927 individuals convicted of federal crimes. Of the acts of clemency, 1,715 were commutations (including 504 life sentences) and 212 were pardons. Most individuals granted executive clemency by Obama had been convicted on drug charges,and had received lengthy and sometimes mandatory sentences at the height of the War on Drugs. President Obama holds the record for the largest single-day use of the clemency power, granting 330 commutations on January 19, 2017, his last full day in office. He also has issued more commutations than the past thirteen presidents. combined. SneakyPete............ 🤔🙀🙀🤔. 2*17*18..... SEE: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_granted_executive_clemency_by_Barack_Obama SEE: https://www.thoughtco.com/presidents-who-raised-the-debt-ceiling-3321770

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  • James
    02/17/2019
    ···

    What stimulus? It all wound up being squandered by his cronies!

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  • DrCindyBean
    Voted Happy
    02/17/2019
    ···

    Obama did a good job. He was thrown into a bad situation the way GOP left the economy in a crash. The stimulus was necessary. Obama did okay. Focus was on getting USA back where it needed to be. And under Obama our military took out binLaden.

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  • Phillip
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    One of the greatest presidents to screw over the American public. Most notable accomplishments: Fast & Furious, IRS targeting the Tea Party, the VA’s deadly waiting list & Benghazi. The media & most celebs all had the lips firmly attached to his derrière.

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  • Victoria
    Voted Happy
    02/17/2019
    ···

    Thank you, President Obama, who faced the worst economic recession, coupled with unabashed opposition from Republican legislators. In addition to the stimulus which saved the USA financial & auto industry, he signed bills & executive orders strengthening protections for consumers, environment, borrowers & began a recovery whose net positive results remain in effect today.

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  • Bernie
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    It didn’t stimulate anything but public worker unions.

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  • Ann
    Voted Happy
    02/17/2019
    ···

    It was great. Put us in the black. Now we are terribly in the red thanks to Trump.

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  • Chuck
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    Obama was and still is a CIA/Muslim Brotherhood created Sabotaging Treasonous, community agitating race-hustling George Soros financed POS that a bought, bribed and blackmailed piss poor Congress refused to ever bring to Justice and ANYTHING he signed I oppose!!!

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  • DanielOdum
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    I do not feel good about how Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan played out. I think there was a LOT of waste... a lot more than usual.

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  • Stewart
    Voted Apathetic
    02/17/2019
    ···

    Well even with its flaws it’s clear that it did more good for the people then a billion dollar tax cut for the rich. Useless trickle down economics fails again Miles...the tax cut has had no discernible effect on unemployment because it was low when Trump took office anyway, all it did was create a small amount of mostly minimum wage and part time jobs which is offset by the fact that we will be footing the bill for this corporate welfare check.

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  • Terry
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    What stimulus ? I didn’t see a penny.

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  • Caren
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    Obama’s stimulus package did nothing for us! What on earth was he stimulating? It sure wasn’t the economy! In fact, he spent and heaped more debt on this country than all presidents preceding him!🤪😩

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  • Tom
    Voted Sad
    02/17/2019
    ···

    What a joke,Obama even joked about it by saying that it wasn’t very shove ready

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  • murf
    Voted Happy
    02/17/2019
    ···

    The next time someone says that they don’t vote because there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats talk about this. Democrats stimulate failing economies with spending that puts money INTO the economy to stimulate growth while Republicans think the thing to do is cut taxes on the wealthy to take money OUT of the economy, so called Trickle Down. I can hear Republicans now, private enterprise knows best how to spend their money. They do, but not likely for the good of the economy as a whole. If the US economy is failing they will invest elsewhere. They’ll take their windfall to China or Brazil, wherever they’ll get the best short term return, doing NOTHING for the USA. Government’s focus is for the good of the nation. Private interests are for the good of their business. The two are often in conflict.

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