Tags: cbo | stimulus | spending

CBO: Just 25% of Stimulus Money Spent, Job Impact Iffy

Tuesday, 01 Dec 2009 03:42 PM

By John Rossomando

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Only one-fourth of the $787 billion stimulus package has been spent, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that wavers on the money's actual impact on jobs.

Although 640,329 jobs were either created or retained as of the end of September as a direct result of the stimulus package, it is impossible to tell how many of those jobs would have existed without the stimulus, said the report, released late Monday.

The jobs tally was based on reports from employers who received stimulus dollars, and more than half of these jobs were in education, the CBO said.

“Adding up the reported numbers of jobs created or retained is not a comprehensive measure of [the stimulus’] effect on overall employment, or even the effect of those provisions for which recipients’ reports are required,” the CBO report said. “The law’s actual impact could, in principle, be significantly higher than the total number of reported jobs.”

The stimulus contributed to the employment of between 600,000 and 1.6 million people in the third quarter and an inflation-adjusted gross domestic product between 1.2 percent and 3.6 percent higher than it would have been without the stimulus, the report said. The stimulus reduced the unemployment rate by between three-tenths and nine-tenths of a percent from what it would have been otherwise, the report said.

Vice President Joe Biden said the CBO report vindicates the Obama administration’s contention that the stimulus has helped the economy.

“This new report from the Congressional Budget Office is further evidence of what private forecasters and government economists have been saying: the Recovery Act is already responsible for more than 1 million jobs nationwide,” Biden said Tuesday. “From independent economists to Congress’ own nonpartisan research body, the experts have spoken. And the debate is no longer whether the Recovery Act is creating and saving jobs, but how we provide even more opportunities to drive growth and support American workers.”

Republicans were quick to dismiss the report, noting the 10.2 percent unemployment rate — the highest it has been since 1983.

“The CBO report provides very little comfort tothe15.7 million Americans currently unemployed,” said Rep. Darrel Issa of California, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “What we have is a stimulus that is paying for government jobs with private sector jobs and has failed to lower unemployment.”

In addition, the report doesn’t account for the nearly 4 million jobs that have been lost since the stimulus passed in February, Issa said. Nor does it acknowledge the number of jobs that have been lost because of the “$787 billion in deficit spending that takes money out of the private sector,” he said.

The stimulus increased federal spending by $100 billion and reduced tax receipts by $90 billion through September, the report said.

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