The party that still thinks the Bush tax cuts (which resulted in the most negligible job creation in decades) and the Iraq War (which resulted in the Iraq War) both worked wants you to believe that the stimulus failed. And they’ve been making that argument since before the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act even had a chance to work.
This strategy of asserting — despite all the evidence — that the president’s first major accomplishment did not succeed was so successful in the 2010 elections that Republicans are still doing it five years later on the anniversary of the law’s signing, and few Democrats are willing to stand up for the effort that helped blunt the worst of the financial crisis.
“The standard Republican talking point is that it failed, meaning it didn’t reduce unemployment,” economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers wrote in 2012. “Yet in a survey of leading economists conducted by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, 92 percent agreed that the stimulus succeeded in reducing the jobless rate. On the harder question of whether the benefit exceeded the cost, more than half thought it did, one in three was uncertain, and fewer than one in six disagreed.”
And beyond rescuing the economy from a greater depression, the stimulus helped remake America, as Time‘s Mike Grunwald explains in his must-read narrative of the law’s enfolding, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era. With lots of help from Grunwald — whose most recent reflections on the law appear in “5 Years After Stimulus, Obama Says It Worked” — here are five ways the stimulus saved and remade America’s economy when we needed it most.