In February of 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into law. The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) reports, “This large ‘stimulus’ package was the President’s first major legislative victory, and was designed to minimize the negative impact of the Great Recession through a combination of tax credits and new spending initiatives.” Most of the “stimulus” funds came in the form of increased federal spending, with State and local governments receiving $144 billion in transfer payments to help balance their budgets and keep employees on the payroll. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) originally estimated ARRA’s cost at $787 billion, that was later revised to $831 billion.
The NTU further reports, “Congressmen and economists claim that the ‘stimulus’ programs should have spent even more. In either case, Americans still face a challenging economic — and budgetary — outlook going forward. [Illinois] Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky introduced H.R. 1617 [the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act] in mid-April in order to continue funding for certain ARRA initiatives, as well as new programs designed to provide jobs and economic relief.”
Representative Schakowsky is hoping to reduce the number of unemployed individuals by 2.2 million, roughly half, by $227.8 billion in new federal spending over a five-year period. This new spending would go towards building and maintaining schools at a cost of $100 billion; retaining, rehiring, or hiring 300,000 education professionals and support staff at a cost of $3 billion; hiring or rehiring of 40,000 additional law enforcement officers as part of the COPS program at a cost of $10 billion. The bill also aims to provide 750,000 jobs “to help weatherize homes, conduct rural conservation work, and collect recyclable materials” at a cost of $60 billion; spend $6 billion on Head Start programs; $8 billion on retaining and training health care professionals to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; $2.4 billion on firefighters; $800 million on a Student Jobs Corps; and $625 million on the Park Improvement Corps to create an additional 100,000 jobs for the purposes of creating, maintaining, and supporting conservation projects.
The NTU calculates this bill will spend $101,650 for each of the 2.242 million jobs created or saved. The worst part of this bill, as if the price tag weren’t bad enough, is that the bill as written does not include any spending offsets or revenue provisions. Meaning that this bill, if passed, will add over $227 billion to the federal debt over the next five years, based on current projections; and that’s on top of whatever amount will already be added!