When Will the Stimulus Package Start Working?

On February 18, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, a huge piece of legislation that would supposedly stimulate the economy and create jobs. The bill required over 1,000 sheets of paper to print, yet members of Congress had virtually no time to read the measure, which will cost more than $1.1 trillion when interest payments on the borrowing to pay for it are included. Obama Administration officials warned of economic calamity if the stimulus measure didn’t pass, but said that unemployment would top out at 8.5% if it did. Now that unemployment is above 9.5%, it is time to revisit various statements by leading public officials about the stimulus package.

“A failure to act quickly can only lead to more job losses and more economic pain for Americans.”
    —House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D.-Calif.), January 7.

“We begin this year and this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action. Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last 26 years, and experts agree that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits.… In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse. That is why I have proposed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth.… It’s a plan that will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years, and one that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment — the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there’s so much work to be done.”
    — President Obama, January 24

“You’ll see the effects begin almost immediately,”
    — Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers, February 9 on CNN, responding to a question about when the nation would start to see job-creation results.

“I think we’re certainly are experiencing a very severe downturn, but I think with this action, together with the actions that Secretary Geithner announced yesterday, we will turn the corner and we will start adding jobs, rather than losing them at more than half a million a month, like we have been for the last four months.”
    — Christina Romer, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, February 11

“This nation is in a recession, and our constituents are absolutely outraged with what they see happening in this House. They want action. But they do not want the Democrat stimulus bill that passed the Senate yesterday. What they want is a stimulus for Main Street.
They know the best stimulus is a job. They do not want the Democrat big-government stimulus bill that was passed across in the other chamber yesterday. They know that stimulus should be targeted, it should be immediate, it should be temporary, and it should yield results. Yesterday‘s bill brings us $400 million in social services block grants, $300 million for green golf carts, $198 million on the DHS headquarters consolidation, $300 million on FBI construction, $125 million for District of Columbia water and sewer projects.
What they want is focused, targeted stimulus, not a big bill that our children and grandchildren are going to continue to pay for the rest of their lives.”
    — Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R.-Tenn.), February 11

“Today is a sad day for America. Democrats have squandered their opportunity to address our economic problems by putting government before our people. The country is looking for a real solution, yet the majority delivered only a borrow-and-spend bill that will prolong our economic turmoil. The legislation that passed today is irresponsible on every level. Democrats locked the door on the American public and Republicans while negotiating the final bill in secrecy. Rather than working together for real solutions, the final product represents everything wrong about Washington. The majority has used the cover of a crisis to hand out political favors and push their partisan agenda.

Worst of all, this bill simply will not stimulate the economy. There is nothing stimulating about wasting historic amounts of taxpayer money while families across the country struggle to make ends meet.”
    —Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R.-Ga.), February 13

“I have every confidence that if we are willing to continue doing the critical work that must be done — by each of us, by all of us — then we will leave this struggling economy behind us, and come out on the other side, more prosperous as a people.”
    — President Obama, at the February 18 signing ceremony for the stimulus legislation

“The flawed bill the President will sign today is a missed opportunity, one for which our children and grandchildren will pay a hefty price.”
    —House Minority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio), February 18

“We’ve designed this bill to save or create over three million new jobs. And we’d like to see it do even better than that.… And the world is watching to see how well this is going to work.”
    —Vice President Joe Biden, February 19

“None of us had a crystal ball back in December and January. I think almost every private forecaster realized that there were other things going on in the economy. It was worse than we anticipated. What the private forecasters are saying now is that they do anticipate that the economy will start growing again in the second half of the year, and that usually, then, employment and unemployment start to respond shortly after that.“
    — Christina Romer, chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, July 2

“The truth is, we and everyone else misread the economy.
    —Vice President Joe Biden, July 5

“I don’t think anybody can say that we’re honestly satisfied with results so far of the stimulus,’
    —House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.), July 5

“We are in a situation where the economic outlook is very uncertain and the risks are all on the downside. It looks like the economy is weaker than expected Why not begin to think about, over the next several months, whether we need a [second] stimulus package and what it should include, so that we are ready as we get more information?”
    –Obama economic advisor Laura Tyson, July 7.

“The plain truth is that President Obama’s economic decisions have not produced jobs, have not produced prosperity, and have not worked,”
    — House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), July 11

“President Obama is attempting to rewrite history and hoping that Americans won’t notice. While the President may think Americans are not paying attention, they remember clearly his empty promises. He pitched this enormous debt package as an immediate boost to the economy that would quickly lead to more jobs. To suggest the ‘stimulus’ was sold as a plodding, drawn-out program with benefits to be realized in 2011 is a cavalier insult to Americans who must now pick up the tab for generations to come . If the stimulus wasn’t designed to create jobs quickly, what was the point? With the perseverance of our people, the economy will eventually rebound, but it will be in spite, not because, of this stimulus.”
    —Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R.-Ga.), July 13

“It may be hard to grasp how effective this program is because we don’t really know how much worse off we’d be without it, and because the full effect of the program will not be felt for several more months.”
    —Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, July 15

“We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation. Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt? The answer is yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”
    —Vice President Joe Biden, July 16