President Barack Obama pitched a proposal he said would stimulate job growth, even while seeming to concede that “everybody” says his first stimulus of 2009 didn’t work.
Speaking at Union Depot train station in St. Paul, Minn., he announced a proposed $302 billion infrastructure funding program to span four years. He also announced $600 million in competitive grants would be available to localities for projects under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.
“Union Depot was renovated and expanded with the help of what we call TIGER grants,” Obama said. “These are competitive grants that were created as part of what we call the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus, which actually worked despite what everybody claims.”
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with a price tag of $770 billion that ballooned to $830 billion, marked its five year anniversary earlier this year, at which point Vice President Joe Biden declared it a success. However, the numbers haven’t born that out.
In January 2009, the administration projected that passing the bill would bring unemployment to 5 percent by the end of 2013 and ensure that it didn’t surpass 8 percent. But the unemployment was at 8 and 9 percent for much of Obama’s first term. It reached 6.7 percent at the end of 2013 and 6.6 percent in January.
The Congressional Budget Office projected earlier this month that unemployment would be roughly the same by the end of 2014, and will drop to 5.8 percent by 2017.
The stimulus bill was sold largely in 2009 as an infrastructure program. But employment for construction has even declined by more than 500,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics. Just 10 percent of the stimulus money went to infrastructure, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Further, the nonpartisan Factcheck.org stated in June 2011 that “CBO’s high estimate is still short of the 3.5 million jobs that Obama had said would be created by the end of 2010, so it’s accurate to say the stimulus has failed to live up to initial expectations.”
A White House report earlier this month marking the anniversary stated that the recovery act and “subsequent fiscal measures” resulted in $689 billion in tax relief for lower income households. Moreover, the recovery act “will have a positive impact on long run growth, raising the economy’s potential output and ultimately offsetting much of the Act’s initial cost.”
In Minnesota, Obama touted his $302 billion proposal as what the country needs for infrastructure and economic progress.
“My transportation budget will support millions of jobs nationwide and we’ll pay for these investments in part by simplifying the tax code,” Obama said.
He added there are members of Congress from both parties who support more infrastructure projects.
“It shouldn’t be Democrat or Republican,” Obama said. “Everybody uses roads, everybody uses airports. Unfortunately time and again over the past few years there have been some Republicans in Congress who have refused to act on common sense proposals that would create jobs and grow our economy. It’s not that they don’t like roads. They just don’t want to pay for them. You know, it doesn’t work that way.”