The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – U.S. President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus has it’s friends and foes alike. Many of the projects funded by the Stimulus bill are visible all across America. Right outside my house is a stimulus project underway for a bus runway and down the road a street re-pavement project. The White House has stated many times that the stimulus has saved or created 3 million jobs, which helped to avoid another great depression.
The Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in American history, turning the Energy Department into the world’s largest venture capital fund. $90 billion is being invested into clean energy, which includes a huge investment for a smart electric grid, electric cars, energy efficiency for homes and offices, renewable power from our sun, wind, and earth, cleaner coal, advanced biofuels, and factories to manufacture electric car batteries. At least 15 advanced energy efficient car battery factories have opened in Michigan and Ohio.
Most nonpartisan economists say the recession would have been worst without the massive $787 billion program. Republicans mock the bill as a big waste of money, and liberals say the bill wasn’t big enough. All of these arguments about the effectiveness of the bill are about the short term effects and doesn’t look at the long term aspects. The stimulus bill was also about fighting global warming, transforming health care and education, and building a competitive 21st century economy.
A closer look at the stimulus bill shows tax cuts implemented for 95% of working Americans, money for all 50 cash strapped states including unemployment benefits, aid to struggling families, tax cuts for new home buyers, and funds for more than 100,000 projects to upgrade airports, military bases, schools, subways, and roads. Another phase of the Recovery Act is now kicking into gear. Green manufacturing industries are being launched, computerization of pen-and-paper health systems, promotion of school reform projects, and a massive infusion of research dollars for the future.
The stimulus is also funding excess to broadband in rural areas, helping to create more than 2,300 complete human genomes, $8 billion for a high-speed passenger rail network, which is the biggest federal transportation project since the federal interstate highway system was built in the 1950’s. There’s also $4.35 billion for the Education Departments Race to the Top grants program to promote public school reform which has moved 35 states and the District of Columbia to adopt reforms in order to qualify for federal monies. There’s also $20 billion to move health records into the digital age, which should result in less repetitive tests, dangerous drug interactions and errors caused by the inability to read doctors scribbling. All of these together should result in lower health care costs.
The true effects of the stimulus bill won’t be known for years and certainly won’t be judged in it’s entirety any time soon. Nonetheless, it’s a massive project with great potential for a better America.