Evaluating the Impact of the Implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

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PEELING THE ONION: RANDOM THOUGHTS ON A FEDERAL POLICY’S IMPLEMENTATION

While clearing some old files off my computer, I came across a letter from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas W. Elmendorf that was sent to Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate’s Committee on the Budget), specifically outlining the CBO’s opinion of the economic impact of the president’s “Stimulus Plan” (Congressional Budget Office. 2009). Reading this got me to wondering if it was yet too early to begin to justly evaluate the impact of the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

As I read, and then reread this letter, my take on the subject broadened a bit. It also occurred to me how many layers must be peeled away before relevant information of any substance may be found on the topic. In consideration of the letter’s overall tone of “either this or that” will likely occur, it seems safe to say that one of the lead agencies involved in the implementation of the most significant and rapid expansion of government debt in history is, at best, only able to say “we hope so”.

In particular, Elmendorf notes:

Short-Term:

• There is no certainty of outcome within the economist community as spending of this magnitude is rarely, if ever, seen.

• In the short run, the stimulus legislation would likely “…raise GDP and increase employment by adding to aggregate demand and thereby boosting the utilization of labor and capital that would otherwise be unused because the economy is in recession.”

Long Term:

• The outcome will ultimately be “determined by the stock of productive capital, the supply of labor, and

productivity.”

• “…the principal channel for this ...

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...c Advisers. 2009. The Economic Impact of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Of 2009: First Quarterly Report. September 10. http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_ARRA_Report_Final.pdf..

Dinan, Stephen. 2009. CBO: Obama stimulus harmful over long haul. Washington Post. February 4. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/04/cbo-obama-stimulus-harmful-over-long-haul

Elmendorf, Douglas. 2009. Personal Letter To US Senator Judd Gregg. February 11. Downloaded File/Original Source Unknown. CBO Stimulus Effect 2-09.pdf.

Gross, Daniel. 2009. The $800 Billion Deception. Slate. October 12. http://www.slate.com/id/2232185

Talk Radio News Service. 2009. Boehner Claims Recovery Act Played No Role In Lowering Unemployment. December 4. http://talkradionews.com/2009/12/boehner-denies-that-recovery-act-played-role-in-lowering-unemployment

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