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You Don't Have to Take Our Word For It

Summary: 
Take a look at what independent economists and economic observers from across the political spectrum have had to say about the success of the Recovery Act on its one-year anniversary.

Take a look at what independent economists and economic observers from across the political spectrum have had to say about the success of the Recovery Act on its one-year anniversary:

Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank: "The stimulus worked," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank. Without it, "the unemployment rate would probably be closer to 11 percent" and the economy might not have grown at all last year.” [ABC News, 2/18/10]

Economist Stephen Herzenberg: “Cut through all the numbers, though, and this is what you find: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved us from plunging into a second Great Depression… The Recovery Act brought the economy back from the brink.  And these figures probably underestimate its impact, because they don't take market psychology into account. When the legislation passed, the economy was plunging at a pace similar to that of the 1930s. If Congress had sat on its hands, unemployment now could easily be 12 percent to 15 percent - and on its way to 20 percent.”  [Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/17/10]

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com: “The economy has shed some three million jobs over the past year, but it would have lost closer to five million without stimulus,” said Mark Zandi, who is currently advising Congressional Democrats but also advised Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. “The economy is still struggling, but it would have been much worse without stimulus.” [New York Times, 1/17/10]

Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute: “If you go to the economic forecasters, who make their money doing this, they confirm that the -- you know, we have saved around two million jobs in the process.  If you look at what actually happened in the economy, in the beginning of 2009, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. In the last three months, we were losing about 35,000. This wasn't by accident that we went from a deep, you know, decline in the economy to an actual growing economy…. And the administration's actually done something pretty marvelous of trying to actually track where all the money went, who got it, and how many jobs were created. And, if anything, they understate the amount of jobs being created. Yes, so, I think there's been a tremendous effort to actually document the impact of this.”  [PBS Newshour, 2/17/10]

Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of IHS/Global Insight: “It prevented things from getting much worse than they otherwise would have been,’ Nariman Behravesh, Global Insight’s chief economist, says. ‘I think everyone would have to acknowledge that’s a good thing.” [New York Times, 2/17/2010]

OMB Watch: “[T]he one thing that cannot be denied is that the Act has substantially advanced the cause of fiscal transparency.  We could complain that the transparency provisions of the Act are not perfect, but without the Act, we wouldn't even have anything to gripe about.  We'd still be stuck arguing whether timely recipient reporting is a feasible goal or not.  In this sense, the Recovery Act provided a convenient pilot program for fiscal transparency.  Now, one year later, the Act has not only proved that broad-based recipient reporting is feasible, it has shown that the reporting is useful.  By showing how multiple levels of recipients (although not all levels of sub-recipients) have used their federal funding, the Recovery Act has provided the government and its citizens an unprecedented ability to see where its money has gone.”  [OMBWatch.org, 2/17/10]

Associated General Contractors economist Ken Simonson: “’The stimulus is saving construction jobs, driving demand for new equipment and delivering better and more efficient infrastructure,’ said Ken Simonson, an economist with Associated General Contractors, which represents a large part of the construction industry.  Simonson calculated that roughly 15,000 jobs have been created or preserved for every $1 billion the government has spent on infrastructure projects, which is well above the association’s year-ago estimate of 9,700 jobs. He said that stimulus-funded road construction projects alone have created 280,000 jobs over the past year, as well as an unknown number of ancillary jobs for subcontractors supplying equipment and raw materials.”  [San Diego Union Tribune, 2/17/10]

Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association: “One year ago today, President Obama visited a solar installation to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The purpose of the bill was to stimulate immediate job growth with a strong emphasis on clean energy technologies like solar. And that is exactly what happened. In 2009, the Recovery Act helped the solar industry create 18,000 new American jobs. More than 50 new solar energy manufacturing plants are under construction now with the support of ARRA.” [Solar Energy Industries Association, 2/17/10]

Michael Graetz, a former George H.W. Bush Treasury official: "’It was right 40 years ago, and it's right today, and it's nice that something good comes out of the stimulus,’ says Michael Graetz, a Columbia Law School tax professor who did a stint at Treasury in the George H. W. Bush years.  Today, beneath partisan gunfire and ideological clashes in Washington, one of the few things on which Democrats and Republicans in the Senate agree is that Build America Bonds should be made permanent.  It probably will be.”  [Wall Street Journal, 2/17/10]

Liz Oxhorn is Recovery Act Communications Director