This week marks five years since passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- President
Folks at the
Though the road back has been steep and progress slow, Obama's team notes that the United States is in much better shape than France, Britain and other economic leaders, with only Germany matching the U.S.' progress.
Among the tangible benefits of the stimulus, the White House lists 2,700 bridges upgraded, 40,000 miles of roads repaired, 700 drinking water systems brought up to federal clean-water standards and high-speed Internet brought to 20,000 community institutions.
The president's men also claim an average of 1.6 million jobs created or preserved each of the four years following congressional approval of the stimulus bill.
GOP leaders say what the country really needs is less regulation, less government spending and a green light for the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil fields to Texas.
Obviously, in political terms, not much has changed in five years. The debate is as it was then -- and pretty much as it was when
So far, the Obama administration gets the better of this argument. Obama's team has offered some solid numbers to back their claim of moderate success. They refute the Republican contention that it all cost too much by pointing out that funding the stimulus increases the national debt by "less than 0.1 percentage point." The Republicans, on the other hand, are just spouting tired talking points and old bromides about freeing the elusive "job creators" from regulations and taxation.
One key point being ignored by both sides is that the recovery might have been much more robust had the initial stimulus scheme been followed up by even more stimulus spending. That did not happen because Republican opposition limited the size of the recovery act and guaranteed that it would not have a sequel.