RSS
Is the stimulus creating jobs, or killing them?
The president's critics pounce on a new report from White House economists — claiming that it proves the $821 billion stimulus was a giant waste of money
Job seekers at a California employment fair in June 2011: President Obama's 2009 economic stimulus created or saved up to 3.6 million jobs, according to the White House.
Job seekers at a California employment fair in June 2011: President Obama's 2009 economic stimulus created or saved up to 3.6 million jobs, according to the White House.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
T

he latest report from White House economists concludes that the $821 billion economic stimulus package created or saved between 2.4 million and 3.6 million jobs, enough to "cushion the fall" of the cratering economy after the 2008 crash. But if that's the case, critics say, the Obama administration could have just cut checks for $100,000 to every person put to work by the stimulus, and still saved hundreds of billions of dollars. And, says Jeffrey H. Anderson at The Weekly Standard, six months ago, the same economists estimated that the number of jobs saved might have been even higher, which suggests the massive debt we piled up with the stimulus is now costing us jobs. Could the stimulus really be increasing unemployment?

The stimulus saved jobs, period: The numbers don't lie, says Erica Rodriquez at the Orlando Sentinel. Money from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved thousands of teaching jobs in Florida alone. "It also helped support struggling schools and provided a financial cushion during a statewide economic downturn and resulting budget crisis." If you don't believe the stimulus did any good, wait to see what happens now that the money is drying up.
"Central Florida schools scramble to find money as federal stimulus funds run out"

The stimulus is undermining the economy, not helping it: Even if there was a brief employment boost, says Hans Bader at OpenMarket.org, stimulus spending is like dumping taxpayer money in a "leaky bucket," where some of it does good while the rest goes to waste. It was inevitable that in the long run, this boondoggle would weaken the recovery "by exploding the national debt and crowding out private investment," not to mention hurting our international competitiveness by pushing up taxes.
"Failed stimulus spending erodes America's international competitiveness, wipes out wealth"

We got something for our money, but not enough: The bottom line is we didn't get enough jobs to make this "ambitious effort" worth it, says Steve Chapman at Reason. A lot of the money went to states, but instead of wisely spending it on roads and bridges, or creating jobs, a lot of them used the cash to plug holes in their budgets, and to avoid raising taxes to pay for existing programs. We still don't know whether the federal government can engineer a faster recovery, but "we do know it can go broke trying." 
"The failure of Obama's economic stimulus"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week