The Center for American Progress also examined the impact the stimulus bill had on GDP and private sector layoffs. Prior to the stimulus in the fourth quarter of 2008, GDP dropped by nine percent. Following passage of the Recovery Act, decline in GDP slowed and by the third quarter of 2009 it began to grow again.
Looking beyond economic facts and figures, the tangible impact the stimulus had on the lives of citizens across the nation is easily seen.
The stimulus bill included the largest tax cuts in history. These included credits for homebuyers and individuals purchasing cars. The Recovery Act helped members of the middle class by slashing the payroll tax for 95 percent of working Americans, providing Virginia families a tax break of about $1,100 year. Roughly one-third of the stimulus funds went directly to state and local governments, preventing layoffs of teachers and government employees, maintaining critical services.
Further, businesses and entrepreneurs received help from the stimulus tax breaks and funding programs. The Recovery Act expanded small business loans to provide nearly 70,000 more businesses with needed capital – including companies like Port City Brewing Company, a wildly popular new brewer located in Northern Virginia.
The Recovery Act also aided lower income Americans through a temporary funding increase to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). In 2010, poverty rose to 15.5 percent and with it, the number of individuals unable to put food on their table. More families qualified for assistance, and with the stimulus funds, SNAP is credited with supplementing the grocery bills of 22 million families across the country.
The remaining third of stimulus funds went to infrastructure projects focused on renewable and cleaner energy sources, expanding broadband access and improving the healthcare industry’s IT capabilities. Northern Virginia saw $77.5 million go towards Dulles Rail. The funds were part of dedicated federal spending, but expediting the release of funding moved Phase I of Dulles rail at a faster rate and will save the project $15 million overall.
We still have a ways to go before our nation fully recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression. But the success of the stimulus demonstrates the effectiveness of smart, targeted spending by the Federal Government for families, businesses and cities and towns across the nation.. I will continue to fight in Congress for programs and investments like these that promote job growth and a better life for all Americans.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.