A Rose By Any Other Name: A Second Economic Recovery Act May Be On The Way...But Don't Call It A Stimulus

Author:Mr Christopher Rissetto and Robert Helland
Profession:Reed Smith

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs The Obama administration continues to tout the performance of the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," signed into law February 17, 2009 and commonly called the "Stimulus Bill" (Public Law 111-5). One of the biggest, and most argued over, metrics is job creation. The Obama administration, on the website "Recovery.Gov," lists that as of October 10, 2009, 30,383 jobs were either created or saved by the stimulus funding sent to federal contractors via grants. In addition, the Obama administration announced in a report issued October 19, 2009 that 250,000 education jobs were either created or saved, thanks to $67 billion in stimulus formula grants distributed through September 30 ("Educational Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act"). These funds went to help state and local governments fill in gaps in education-spending as a result of declining tax revenue, thereby avoiding lay-off of teachers and other personnel.

The Obama administration argues that, but for the stimulus bill, these jobs would not exist and the recession would be far worse. Regardless, this has not stopped the unemployment rate from reaching 9.8 percent in September, the highest since June 1983. Labor Department statistics indicate 7.2 million jobs have been eliminated since the recession began in December 2007 ( www.dol.gov). Even President Obama has stated that the unemployment rate will reach and exceed 10 percent, a symbolic but important milestone, perhaps as soon as October's unemployment figures are reported.

All of this has led to calls for a second effort to help the nation's economy, with a particular effort to address high unemployment. But the Obama administration will not call it a second stimulus bill, in large part because of the concern that to do so would be to admit that the first stimulus bill was a failure. Semantics aside, the Public Policy & Infrastructure Group does not see the president and Congress agreeing to another stimulus package equaling the $787 billion included in the first one. Besides being seen by some as an admission of failure, the distribution of funds from the first stimulus bill has not even reached the halfway mark. Recovery.gov notes, for example, that of the $275 billion that is set aside under the stimulus for contracts, grants and loans, only $47 billon has been spent as of October 8, 2009.

We anticipate considerable funding opportunities to become available between now and September...

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