Last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made a bold assertion: President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus law is “widely recognized to have broken the back of the recession.” The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law on February 17, 2009, had an original cost estimate of $787 billion, but has since been revised by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to an elevated tune of $831 billion.
Naturally, when considering such a massive sum of taxpayer dollars, debate over whether the law has stimulated economic growth — or whether it has spurred enough growth to warrant government intervention — has become a common theme among critics and lawmakers. Inevitably, the Obama administration stands by its allegation that government-sponsored “stimulus” is imperative in a time of economic crisis, and that without the Recovery Act, the United States would have sunk into an economic cataclysm rivaling the Great Depression.
“There's been some discussion about the Recovery Act,” Carney noted in a White House briefing last Thursday. “The entire purpose of the Recovery Act was to grow the American economy and grow American jobs here at home, and that's what it did. It's widely recognized to have broken the back of the recession, to have reversed the situation where we were losing jobs at a rate of 750,000 per month to one where we've created over 4.2 million private sector jobs. The Recovery Act alone is viewed by outside economists as having saved or created over 3 million jobs.”
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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney gestures during his daily news briefing at the White House, July, 11, 2012: AP Images