White House celebrates 5 year anniversary of stimulus, Republicans say it failed

McClatchy Washington BureauFebruary 17, 2014 

US NEWS STIMULUS 3 ABA

Construction on freeway ramps funded by stimulus money takes place at Edsall Road and I-95 in Springfield, Virginia, on October 26, 2010. The Obama administration is pushing for an additional $50 billion stimulus-but-don't-call-it-stimulus package to boost highway spending.

OLIVIER DOULIERY — MCT

Five years after it was signed into law, the White House and Republicans are still arguing about the 2009 stimulus act that was designed to jump start a faltering economy.

The White House says the stimulus act -- which celebrates its 5th anniversary today -- "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 it ends.

In a celebratory blog post marking the signing of the bill, Council of Economic Advisers chairman Jason Furman says a final report to Congress shows that the act "saved or created about 6 million job-years" -- in which a "job-year" is defined as one full-time job for one year.

Furman notes Obama signed the controversial legislation -- titled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- less than a month into his first term. At the time, Furman said, the country was experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"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," Furman said.

Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday will visit America's Central Port in Granite City, Ill., to mark the fifth anniversary of the Recovery Act. He'll discuss the report to Congress and "highlight the need for continued investment in infrastructure to create jobs and grow our economy," the White House said.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will join Biden at the event.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in an editorial argues that the stimulus bill did little to lift the middle class or provide jobs and appears to have been "designed not so much on the basis of real need or an empirical study of what would actually help people get back on their feet, but on ideology and political connections."

He noted that nine out of 10 Americans say Obama should prioritize job creation.

"Such overwhelming majorities wouldn’t feel that way if the stimulus had led to the kind of 'long-term growth and prosperity' that the president initially envisioned," McConnell wrote. "Five years later, the stimulus is no success to celebrate. It is a tragedy to lament."

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