THE NUMBERS are in, and there can no longer be any doubt that President Obama’s stimulus bill, passed just over a year ago, helped pull America from the brink of economic catastrophe, in part by creating millions of jobs that would not otherwise have existed. All of the major economic research firms that have studied the stimulus’ effect have come to this conclusion. The specific estimates vary, but it’s clear that the stimulus created somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.6 million jobs so far, and will generate around 2.5 million in the long run. (The administration’s generous estimate is 3.5 million.)
Joblessness is still sky-high, of course, and the United States is by no means out of the woods economically. It’s understandable that Americans whose situations haven’t been visibly improved by the bill want to rail against it and outsized government spending, and the stimulus certainly wasn’t without its flaws.
Still, though, it’s ridiculous to deny, as many have, that adding 2.5 million jobs was a poor use of government funds, or that the bill’s other features, which ranged from expanded COBRA health benefits for laid-off workers to money to forestall layoffs of teachers, firefighters, and police officers, helped many Americans to stay on their feet.
Stimulus opponents, often motivated by strictly ideological or political concerns, have repeatedly claimed that the bill didn’t create a single job that the economy wouldn’t have created anyway. This isn’t true, and it should be beyond the bounds of political debate to claim it.