“Encore! Encore!” Americans everywhere are applauding the successes of the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and they want more! There are whispers in D.C. of a second stimulus that would make Roosevelt blush with pride. The Associated Press and New York Times reported this week that a second stimulus is being cooked up in the halls of Congress. The proposed second stimulus would likely be marketed to constituents as an extension of the ARRA, which was signed into law on Feb. 17 after months of misinformed Republican attacks and charges of “communism.” The ARRA, eight months after its inception has, indeed, served its stated purpose of creating jobs and restoring consumer confidence. Today, based on GDP, the recession is over. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, the ARRA has been hugely effective in creating one million jobs.
What’s more, the ARRA achieved these initiatives in a bipartisan fashion. Before Republicans shout “You lie!” realize that the majority of the stimulus, $288 billion, goes toward tax relief; $275 billion goes toward grants and loans, awarded on a competitive basis, to create jobs in primarily in the private sector. That doesn’t sound communist to me.
The ARRA has benefited UCSB to the tune of $16,494,286 split mainly between Cal Teach and a multitude of research grants. It has also awarded grants to Goleta nonprofit Community Action Commission and Goleta businesses Launchpoint Technologies and Gas Reaction Technologies (GRT). These grants are not wasted money, as Republicans will have you believe, but investments. In the short term, these grants mean new jobs created in our community to spur the economy. In the long term, these investments could mean much more. Look at the potential, for example, of investing in the sciences. GRT focuses its research on improving fuel efficiency and obtaining more value for natural gases. More efficient fuel technologies could produce huge financial benefits in the future.
Obama also delivered promised of transparency by creating recovery.gov, a Web site that allows taxpayers to track every cent of the money being distributed. Citizens also get bimonthly reports from the Government Accountability Office, and documents from the Offices of Inspectors General, which monitors fraud, waste and abuse.
Thanks to the ARRA, the recession is over. It is true, though, that our economy is still in a slump. In September, unemployment reached 9.8 percent, the highest it has been in 26 years. We need not guess, however, how much worse the financial crisis could have been had it been left to “sort itself out” by means of laissez faire economics. We learned this lesson in the dark years of nonintervention from Black Tuesday, 1929 until 1933 when Roosevelt’s New Deal initiated economic recovery. Had the Obama administration not intervened to stem home foreclosures, bank failures and job loss, the recession would have been devastating on levels not seen since the Great Depression. Now, with some of the most successful components of the ARRA set to expire at the end of this year, like the homebuyer’s credit and health and unemployment benefits, it’s time to act once more. Call for an encore and support a prolonged stimulus so that we can see continued improvements in our economy.