The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “ARRA” or “Stimulus”) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama with the hopes that it would achieve two key objectives: add new jobs and save existing jobs. The Stimulus Bill authorized the United States federal government to spend a total of $787 billion (yes billion with a “b”) with the hopes that the funds would be used to replace the natural spending that private citizens would engage in had the economic recovery come along faster than what actually happened in 2008 and early 2009.
The total spending package authorized by the Stimulus Plan was spread through various sectors and facets of the economy, including infrastructure, healthcare technology, energy, communications, tax incentives and communications. Some of the largest Stimulus package spending areas (by dollar amount) will be explained in this article.
The total amount of authorized infrastructure investment equaled $105.3 billion. It was broken up between transportation sectors, sewage & water support, government buildings and energy infrastructure. In regards to transportation infrastructure, $27.5 billion out of the $48.1 billion allocated for this subset of transportation was earmarked for highway and bridge construction. You may have seen the large orange signs at various roadway construction projects touting the fact that the project was funded by Stimulus package money.
By far, the tax incentives made up the largest part of the Stimulus Act, totaling $237 billion for individual tax breaks and $51 billion for companies. Many of the personal tax breaks offered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were well publicized in the local and national media. These included the “economic recovery payment”, which was a one time cash payment to recipients of various general welfare programs, including Social Security and Veterans benefits. Additional personal income tax incentives were the first time home buyer credit (offering $8,000 to first time home buyers who purchased a job between the beginning of 2009 and December 1, 2009.
A total of $100 billion was directed to education. It included $53.6 billion in aid to various school districts to help avoid layoffs and cutbacks, $13 billion for “low-income” public school children, $650 million for “educational technology”, and $2.1 billion for the national HeadStart program.
ARRA funding has also been authorized for different types of energy investments. Congress had a particular focus on renewable energy options, spending a total of $6 billion on renewable initiatives. Additionally, $5 billion was spent on weatherization methods and another $800 million on biofuel research.
To track the ARRA funds authorized through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the federal government created the recovery.gov website. Although the intention to add transparency to the Stimulus package funds being spent was noble, numerous mishaps have been discovered and reported by local and national news media outlets. Still, reviewing the website can give you an idea of what projects have received ARRA funding and who has primarily benefited from the Act.
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