Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Research Desk: How much "other" stimulus has been passed?

By Dylan Matthews

roquelaure_79 asks:

We keep hearing about how the stimulus was too small. True. But it also wasn't the last word on stimulus/rescuing the economy. Congress has passed numerous fixes, assistance, etc since then. How much TOTAL money has Congress thrown at the problem. After all, unemployment assistance, food stamps, state aid, etc is not *only* stimulative when it's in the stimulus bill.

As roquelaure_79 says, Congress has passed a lot of stimulus-related legislation. Most of these were small-scale measures like the HIRE Act or Cash for Clunkers. The question is how to tally it all up.

Luckily, in their recent paper (PDF) measuring the effect of federal policy on the recovery from the recession, Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder (read their interviews with Ezra here and here) add up all this miscellaneous spending, as well as the stimulus signed into law by the Bush administration in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. They also assume that, through 2011, Congress will pass another $80 billion in stimulus: $50 billion in extended unemployment benefits, $25 billion in aid to states and $5 billion in lending funds for small businesses and other measures. Considering that a $33 billion unemployment benefit extension not included in the paper has been signed into law, and $26 billion in state aid and $30 billion in small business lending are being considered, this might actually low-ball the real figure. Add these three bills to the Blinder/Zandi estimates and the combined fiscal stimulus from 2008 to the present amounted to $1.156 trillion:


As you can see, the ARRA is still responsible for the vast majority of fiscal stimulus since the economic downturn. It would be tempting to look at the $1.156 trillion figure and note that this is close to Christina Romer's $1.2 trillion initial estimate for the stimulus bill, but it's important to note that the largest other measure, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, had already been passed during the 2009 stimulus debate, and that many of the unemployment insurance extensions and other measures might have been passed following a larger stimulus anyway. That is, even with these other bills, the actual stimulus was still much smaller than Romer said it needed to be.

By Dylan Matthews  |  August 10, 2010; 1:59 PM ET
Categories:  Stimulus  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Lunch Break
Next: Where the stimulus's NIH money went


plus a third of it was wasted on tax cuts with minimal stiumulative effect

Posted by: newsjunkie10 | August 10, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

wow. yet another attempt to mislead readers.

How trite

Posted by: skipsailing28 | August 10, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

what do lemieux voinovich snowe collins brown want for them to yea the small business bill

Posted by: jackjudge4000yahoocom | August 10, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

politico report says small business bill vote scheduled for 9/14. reid thinks he can get em. baucus will gun for fossil fuel subsidy cuts to pay for it plus adjust paperwork problem related to #hcr -- not sure what that's all about exactly

Posted by: jackjudge4000yahoocom | August 10, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

It's also important that the ARRA figure includes the alternative minimum tax fix. There is an alternative minimum tax fix every single year. It only appears as a tax cut because Congress forces the CBO to pretend that there will never be another AMT fix when it forecasts deficits.

So the real stimulus in ARRA was less than the official number by a cool 70 billion. Also, appropriated is not the same as spent. Much of the ARRA money has not been spent yet "$146 billion ... takes place in years after the end of calendar year 2010," That's not what Romer had in mind either.

Posted by: rjw88 | August 10, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Dylan!

Posted by: roquelaure_79 | August 11, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company