Tom McNamara, Blueprint America
America lost 524,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate, at the same time, is at a 16-year-high of 7.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. There are currently 11.1 million unemployed throughout the country, which is nearly double the number out of work at the start of the economic recession a year ago.
President Barack Obama has promised to sustain Americans in these hard times with an $825 billion economic stimulus package – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009.
While campaigning, candidate Obama said he would create one million jobs, and, after winning the election, he proposed a plan to create up to three million. Just prior to being sworn into office, the then President-elect’s transition team released a report that estimated 3.7 million jobs could be created by the end of 2010 with his stimulus plan.
However, of the $825 billion stimulus plan, only $355 billion would be spent on highways, bridges, transit, green technology and other job-creating investments. And of that $355 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, less than half would be used by 2010.
The Federal Highway Administration also analyzed how long it takes before money from transportation projects is paid out to workers, and found that 27 percent of it is paid in the first year and 41 percent in the second year.
Consequently, Republicans argue the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill, which was drafted by Democrats and is backed by the Obama Administration, will not create enough jobs in order to immediately stimulate the struggling economy.
On the other hand, Democrats argue the other Two-Thirds of the $825 billion plan will directly boost the economy as there would be a release tens of billions of dollars to help pay for jobless benefits and health care for the poor, and tax cuts for middle-class families.
At the same time, the Obama Administration has now promised $3 of every $4 in the package should be spent within 18 months to have maximum impact on jobs and taxpayers.