One of the most tired talking points from the Republican Party is that the 2009 stimulus bill was a failure and that it didn't create any jobs. A Republican can't talk about the stimulus bill without putting the word "failed" in front of it. However, as well all know here at New Nebraska, there frequently is a big gap between reality and what the Republicans tell us. That is certainly the case with the 2009 stimulus bill.
According to a recent study by Fitch Ratings, the recession might still be going on in the absence of the the TARP bill, the $831-billion stimulus package passed by the Congress in 2009 and the Federal Reserve's near-zero interest rates.
The boost from those policies helped the nation's gross domestic product increase 3% in 2010 and 1.7% last year. As a matter of fact, absent the stimulus, the U.S. "might still be mired in a recession," according to this study, done in conjunction with Oxford Economics.
The U.S. economy would have seen little or no growth the last two years without the policies, the report says, and those actions appear "to have significantly softened the severity of the decline" in GDP in the year immediately after the recession ended in mid-2009.
Though the Fed's monetary policy actions were helpful, the 2009 stimulus bill "had the strongest positive impact on consumption during the recent recovery," the study found. This conclusion by Fitch Ratings corroborates findings in February by the Congressional Budget Office and a 2010 study by former McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder about the positive economic effects of the $831-billion stimulus package, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Proof of the success of the stimulus bill can be found closer to home here in Nebraska. In 2009 and 2010, Governor Dave Heineman balanced the State's budget with hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds. This federal money prevented the layoff of Nebraska state employees and even more severe program cuts. The federal stimulus money tided Nebraska over until the economy began to improve in 2011-12. Despite that success, Heineman hypocritically claimed that he was opposed to the 2009 stimulus bill. However, the fact remains that Heineman took the stimulus money and ran - making the State's balanced budget the centerpiece of his 2010 re-election campaign. I would say to Governor Dave that actions speaker louder than words.
In other states, Republican members of Congress said the stimulus didn't create any jobs and termed it a failure. Nevertheless, many of those same Republicans sought stimulus money behind the scenes and said that it would create permanent jobs in their district. For example, Right Wing firebrand Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) quietly sent at least six letters to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging stimulus funding for transportation projects in her district. In one of them, in support of $300 million in spending for the $700 milliion replacement-bridge project crossing the St. Croix River, Bachmann cited a MnDOT estimate that the project would create nearly 3,000 jobs. In others, she noted that the projects would have economic benefits beyond just the projects in question, spurring development and private sector hiring in the communities surrounding the proposed stimulus projects.
If one of your Republican friends tells you that the 2009 stimulus bill was a "failure," please cite the examples here of the hypocrisy of Heineman and Bachmann. The actions of these Republicans who took the stimulus money and ran is strong evidence that the 2009 stimulus bill was actually a success.
On the issue of the 2009 stimulus bill, we can once again thank Senator Ben Nelson for supporting this vital legislation. At the time of the vote on the stimulus bill, there were 58 Democratic Senators. The Democrats didn't have a 60 vote filibuster proof majority. That means that every vote counted. It is evident that Senator Nelson recognized the gravity of the economic crisis and made the wise decision to support legislation ended the recession and has benefited the economy to this very day. Ben Nelson's vote in favor of the 2009 stimulus bill will be an important part of his positive legacy as our U.S. Senator.