It’s been a year since President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the stimulus bill) into law. I didn’t like the early concessions Obama made to Republicans in a fruitless effort to win their support for the stimulus. I was even more upset with later compromises made to appease Senate conservadems and Republican moderates. They reduced spending in several areas that had real stimulative value (school construction funds, extra money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, aid to state governments) in order to include tax cuts that have much less stimulus “bang for the buck.” Senator Tom Harkin was right to question why 9 percent of the stimulus bill’s cost went toward fixing the alternative minimum tax, for instance.
Still, I supported passage of the stimulus bill. In late 2008 and early 2009 the U.S. economy was losing 600,000 to 700,000 jobs per month. Something had to be done. On balance, the stimulus did much more good than bad. Economists agree it has saved or created a lot of jobs:
Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.
Two and a half million jobs isn’t enough to compensate for the 8 million jobs lost since this recession began, but it’s a start.
Not only did the stimulus create jobs, it greatly increased spending on programs that will have collateral benefits. Incentives to make homes more energy efficient will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers money that they can spend elsewhere. Money for sewer improvements will provide lasting gains in water quality (inadequate sewers and septic systems are a huge problem in Iowa). The stimulus included $8 billion for high-speed rail. It wasn’t nearly enough, of course; we could have spent ten or twenty times that amount on improving our rail networks. But that $8 billion pot drew $102 billion in grant applications from 40 states and Washington, DC. The massive demand for high-speed rail stimulus funding increases the chance that Congress will allocate more funds for rail transportation in the future.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t believe the stimulus bill created jobs. That’s largely because unemployment remains at a historically high level of 10 percent nationwide. Also, inflation-adjusted average weekly earnings have gone down during the past year. In addition, Republicans have stayed on message about the worthlessness of the stimulus bill, even though scores of them have hailed stimulus spending in their own states and districts.
Democrats on the House Labor and Education Committee released an ad that lists various popular stimulus bill provisions, such as increasing Pell Grants and teacher pay. The ad uses the tag line, “There’s an act for that,” naming the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the end. I don’t think it’s effective, because the ad doesn’t include the word “stimulus.” Few people will realize that the ARRA refers to the stimulus bill.
Bleeding Heartland readers, how do you view the stimulus one year later?Continue Reading...
Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.
The compromise in the House is not real Healthcare reform. Although our country desperately needs Healthcare reform just supporting any bill offered is not progress. After Corporate Democrats and Republicans have gotten a hold of the bills in the House and Senate they are so watered down that they will not be anything that will do much good.Continue Reading...
Join the discussion for Rural Progressives on our issues, challenges, and candidates for 2010 at Hillbilly Report. City Slickers are more than welcome too!!
When one thinks about children in poverty in many regions of the country one normally thinks about children living in urban societies. While much child poverty exists in urban conditions the fact is that rural Americans face even a greater challenge uplifting their children from poverty. New statistics are very disturbing for those of us raising children in rural areas of the country.Continue Reading...
As Barack Obama assembles his cabinet and key White House advisers, he’s choosing a lot more people from the “centrist” or corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Party than movement progressives. He is leaving George Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in place. He has also made some symbolic moves that angered a lot of progressives, in particular selecting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.
I understand the political arguments in favor of Obama’s strategy, and opinion polls support some of them. When asked whether they approve of Obama or how he is handling the transition (different pollsters ask the question differently), anywhere from 65 percent to 75 percent of Americans are saying they approve.
I’ve been wondering how much Obama’s conciliatory gestures have been helping him with Republicans and conservatives of the wingnut variety. I’m not talking about Jim Leach Republicans, I’m talking about the kind of person who really believed Obama was a “socialist.”
For example, one of my friends told me last month that her mother’s best friend believes changing the American flag will be “the first order of business” when Obama takes office. I am not kidding.
In the next ten days, many of us will attend holiday parties and family reunions. I don’t recommend that you bring up politics at these events if that would make people uncomfortable. However, if you come from a family where politics are often discussed when folks get together, I would like to hear from you.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out whether your conservative friends and relatives have abandoned some of their more paranoid beliefs about Obama since he was elected. In other words, how well have Obama’s conciliatory gestures allayed conservative fears about his intentions? Is he likely to get more of a honeymoon than Bill Clinton did in 1993?
Feel free to post your own diary or a comment in this thread.Continue Reading...
Many conservative pundits were not impressed by John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, since her glaring lack of experience undercuts McCain’s main message against Barack Obama.
On the plus side for McCain, just about everyone agreed that putting an anti-abortion mother-of-five on the ticket would delight the evangelical Christians who were so crucial to George Bush’s re-election.
Although the “pro-family” interest groups applauded McCain’s choice, I had a hunch that Palin wouldn’t be unanimously embraced by the evangelical rank and file.
I lurk and occasionally comment at a few “mommy blogs” written by religious conservatives. Checking in on some popular sites in the evangelical Christian blogosphere over the weekend, I did find some commentaries that praised Palin for her views and for continuing a pregnancy while carrying a child with Down syndrome.
However, if you join me after the jump, you’ll see that plenty of evangelicals are far from “fired up and ready to go” for this Republican ticket.Continue Reading...