Did the stimulus work?

The verdict is in: The stimulus plan created 1 – 2.1 million jobs through December 2009.

The report comes today from the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan office that is cited as reputable by both sides when it suits them. Here’s the full report.

That’s quite a wide range of numbers there. The CBO says while 600,000 jobs were reportedly created in the 4th quarter, the actual number might be higher or lower than that. Lower, because the jobs might’ve already existed, and higher because the reports measured only the jobs created by employers, not by subcontractors.

That’s a nice way of saying that when Democrats say the stimulus has worked, and Republicans say it hasn’t, both are just guessing and cherry-picking data.

For its part, the CBO reports tax cuts are going to be $7 billion more than it originally estimated because tax changes were carried out more quickly than it expected. It also said spending was lower — albeit slightly lower — than it had predicted.

Incidentally, here’s a moment of serendipity in reading an otherwise dull government report. In a typically bland preface, the report credits various people who worked on it, including Lenny Skutnik who was in charge of printing it. Does that name sound familiar? Maybe this will help.

It’s the answer to the “whatever happened to Lenny Skutnik?” question. A non-descript government employee who became internationally famous for jumping into the Potomac to rescue victims of a plane crash in a “rousing act of courage,” then went back to being a non-descript government employee. It’s too bad. He’s not a guy who should be forgotten:

  • John P

    I wonder if maybe a more macro economic view is required. It seems to me that money put into the economy, no matter how you do it must have a stimulative efftect. Isn’t that what stimulus is … putting money in the economy?

    The only way it doesn’t is if you do something to take money out of the economy at the same time like increase taxes, and the Republicans decry the growing deficit at the same time, so apparently that’s not happening.

    Whatever money was spent, is money in the economy that would not have been there otherwise, and therefore stimulative. It’s that simple, isn’t it?

  • Bob Collins

    I would have liked to have seen some sort of report on the “local” nature of stimulus funds. The theory is that it injects money into an economy. But then I recall a project in New York that used windows from China.

    We have two big windows manufacturers in Minnesota, wouldn’t you think some of that money could’ve been spent to put U.S. workers to work?

    So that’s the big question mark for me on many projects — how quickly does the money leave the U.S. economy?

  • JackU

    But then I recall a project in New York that used windows from China.

    We have two big windows manufacturers in Minnesota, wouldn’t you think some of that money could’ve been spent to put U.S. workers to work?

    If it’s a public project there may be a requirement of using a low bidder. Before you say that it should be “the American low bidder” remember that even though the windows may have been manufactured in China they may have been sold by an American company.

    Of course this gets back to what constitutes an American product.

  • Alison

    I have heard a number people comment that the stimulous only kept people from losing their jobs or only kept state governments from having to make more cuts. Those both seem like pretty significant things to me!