(Reuters) - On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law one of the largest packages of tax cuts and spending measures in U.S. history.
The two-year American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Obama said would create or save more than 3 million jobs, was originally estimated to cost the federal government $787 billion.
A year later, and halfway through the plan’s implementation, Americans are weighing the recovery act’s impact on a stubbornly high unemployment rate and the longest and deepest economic recession in nearly 80 years.
Here are some facts:
- So far, $179 billion in the plan has been spent and $93 billion in tax cuts have been issued. Another $154 billion is in the process of being sent out, and $247 billion is left to spend. The remainder comes in tax cuts yet to be granted.
- The Congressional Budget Office revised its cost estimate for the recovery act up to $862 billion from $787 billion last month.
- The administration says it is on track to have disbursed 70 percent of the plan’s funds by September 30. To meet that goal, the administration says it will increase its average monthly rate of outlays and tax breaks to $32 billion from the current rate of $27 billion.
- More than $8 billion from the plan has been spent on increased food stamps, as the assistance program for the hungry recently reached a record enrollment of 38 million people.
- By the end of December, the Department of Transportation approved 10,000 highway projects. Of the $34.1 billion the department has made available to states, it has only paid out $8.63 billion.
- The plan increased unemployment benefit payments and extended extra payments for those who could not find work when their regular benefits were exhausted through the end of 2009. Recently, Congress pushed the expiration date of both programs to February 28.
- Nearly $280 billion of the spending will be directed through state governments, including a $48 billion stabilization fund to help states balance their budgets.
- According to figures provided by those who received grants and loans from the plan, 595,263 jobs were created or saved by the plan in the final three months of 2009, the White House said in late January. A previous report, which had used a different method of calculation, said it had saved 640,239 jobs in the prior quarter.
- The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated there would have been 1.5 million to 2 million fewer jobs in 2009 if not for the stimulus funds.
- The Congressional Budget Office estimates the package is responsible for employing up to 2.4 million people.
- In January, the U.S. employment rate stood at 9.7 percent. A year earlier, when Congress was negotiating the stimulus plan, it had just reached 7.7 percent.
- In the fourth quarter of 2009 U.S. gross domestic product grew 5.7 percent, with two quarters of growth bringing hope that the economy was pulling out of recession.
- Certain projects were designed to make good on Obama’s campaign promises and begin work on his long-term policy goals, alongside creating jobs and strengthening social programs. , The plan still has $61.5 billion to outlay for these projects, which include developing high-speed rail, creating more energy efficiency in buildings, updating health information technology, scientific research grants.
Sources: USDA, www.recovery.gov, ProPublica, U.S. Census, Labor Department, Congressional Budget Office, Vice President Joe Biden’s Annual Report to the President on Progress Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Eric Beech
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