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How much stimulus money has been spent as of September 2009?


You are probably wondering how much of the 787 Billion dollar stimulus package has been spent and the impact of this spending on helping our economy.  You certainly heard from multiple sources that the deep recession finally slowed down or possibly reversing as can be measured by exuberant Newsweek articles, CNN pundits and leading economic indicators.  True, housing prices have stabilized , unemployment rate slowed down, manufacturing is up, companies reporting stronger than expected earnings and stock market is booming.  Does the much maligned stimulus package deserve any credit? 

The following information has been taken from ProPublica, they are currently tracking spending per department and if you are interested in a detailed breakdown I urge you to explore this fantastic resource.

As you recall, the stimulus package was designed and marketed as an emergency piece of legislation designed to stem the bleeding of our faltering economy.  In fact the stimulus package was the biggest piece of spending in the history of our country smacking of FDR's New Deal programs and laced with over one thousand pages of legalese.  In order to fully appreciate the urgency of the matter keep in mind that not one member of Congress read the full bill and in fact bloggers knew more about this bill than our lawmakers.  Urgency of passing this bill as told by Harry Reid hinged on funds going to be diverted to "shovel-ready" jobs and provide work in the face of mounting unemployment.  Republicans in the House were not convinced and collectively rejected the bill with zero Republicans voting in a rare demonstration of unity.  Senate Republicans were almost as united, but three GOP members including Specter the Defector provided the necessary votes to break Republican filibuster.  Let us see whether Republicans were correct in rejecting this piece of legislation.

Let us examine some of the major recipients of taxpayer moneys for brevity we will examine those departments receiving more than 20% of allocated funds.

Railroad Retirement Board:  Small chunk of change and unclear where the funds are going.
Social Security Administration: 13 billion spent upgrading computers and one time payments. Not stimulating as there is no direct impact to job creation.
Veterans Affairs: .5 billion spent on upgrading facilities, payments, state grants and benefits to veterans.  While not stimulating, entirely justifiable given the neglected veterans in this country.
Department of Labor: 18 billion spent on providing education and worker training to workers and "easing the burden of the recession" by assisting and expanding access to health care.  Not stimulating, no direct impact on job creation or tax benefits.  Providing education to workers is not the responsibility of the federal government and easing the burden of the recession can create a dangerous precedent of reliance.
Department of Justice: 1 billion spent on providing training, equipment and support for crime prevention including the hiring of additional police offers.  Stimulating as it provides jobs to those seeking employment as police officers, however police are the responsibility of municipal governments.  In other words we here in Boston should be not be paying for cops in Wichita, Kansas.
Health and Human Services: 28 billion spent on upgrading hospital's IT programs, research and state grants, Medicare payouts.  The biggest recipient of taxpayer moneys has also the most vague and hard to navigate web-page, giving no clear answer as to what the money is being spent on.  According to the information there, it appears that the money is being used to advance Obama's theory regarding electronic record keeping and the health industry.  Whether or not upgrading our hospitals will impact us beneficially is to be determined, but this appears to be non stimulating spending and egregious spending at that.

It is also worth mentioning Department of Education which has spent 14 Billion on state grants, school modernization, Pell grant funding and possibly preserving education jobs in states where funding is critical.  Largely not stimulating as most of the money is being used on things that simply have no impact on our economy what so ever and do not belong in a federal stimulus package.

Total spending as of today: $84,587,463 or 14.5%!

Examining some of the programs that received the most moneys as of yet one can make two conclusions. First, tracking the money and understanding exactly where it is going is a fool's errand and an extremely impractical task.  Leaving us with a collection of arbitrary spending plans according to the government agencies in charge of distribution.   Secondly, most of the spending as of now has been NON stimulating and largely have been focused on state grants (loans), modernization and direct payouts.  Percentage wise, I can make a very random guess that of the 14.5 percent, perhaps 3-5% has been directed to places that create jobs and this is a very generous estimate on my part.

So, can 3-5% possibly stop one of the worst recessions in thirty years?  Or was the CBO absolutely spot on when they predicted back in February that by the end of 2009 our recession will slow down and reverse with or without a stimulus intervention.  You be the judge, but as of now I am not seeing any reason why Congress jammed this bill down our throats and it should be no surprise at this point why 45% of Americans think we should cancel the remainder of the stimulus bill.  A strong platform for 2010 can be a pledge to dismantle the remainder of the stimulus bill.


  • Jennifer Schaus / Jennifer Schaus & Associates 5 years ago

    Small business vs large business Stimulus Contract awards are quite uneven. The admin sold us on the "package" by promising to help "main street" & last time I checked, there wasn't a Lockheed or Northrop Grumman on main street. The small business are more vulnerable to closing their doors if they lose a contract versus the big guys.
    Like bees on honey, there is a large influx of small/mid-size businesses attempting to go after govt contracts w/o the education on this vertical market & what it takes to be successful. They still need to take some responsibility to learn about government, build the relationships, obtain the designations/certifications they need & the contract vehicles. This in itself can take several months & incur a high investment of time and money. It is more competitive than ever & certainly a long-term investment to be successful.
    Jennifer Schaus
    Jennifer Schaus & Associates
    Washington, DC

  • Arkady 5 years ago

    What you are saying, is that due to lobbying and power exerted by the big business, smaller businesses face an ever bigger disadvantage as government incorrectly and unfairly helps big businesses. Assuming that is the correct notion, then I agree, the line between big corporations and our gov't is becoming blurrier each day.

  • deej 5 years ago

    How can you say that giving our kids a better education doesn't help our economy?

  • arkady 5 years ago


    That is very simple. The return on investment for education is impossible to determine, therefore when in a recession, directing precious funds to anything that does not directly impact the economy is wasteful. Secondly, you are assuming that "funding education" improves education and there is simply no correlation there what so ever. America has increased money to the Department of Education, yet our schools continue to get worse. So while your question is loaded and based on benevolent sympathetic notions, it fails to consider economic implications.

  • Econ guy 5 years ago

    Horrible article. (1) How many republicans voted for the stimulus package from 2008? Please clarify which package you're talking about before misleading readers. (2) The entire point of these packages is to not spend them at all! Didn't you listen to Paulson when he proposed it? They serve only to calm people down in a panic, which is all this entire thing was. Markets plummet and credit freezes when people panic. I can't believe you don't understand this!! Of course the stimulus did what it was supposed to settled nerves, people calmed down, markets recovered.

  • Arkady 5 years ago

    Before you accuse me of writing horrible articles, learn basic current events. 787 billion package means one thing and one thing only, the Obama 2009 American Recovery Act. You are talking about TARP and has nothing to do with what I am writing about. Lastly Paulson did not propose TARP, his 700 billion idea to buy toxis assets was discarded. Horrible reading comprehension, please pay attention next time.

  • ThinkOusideTheBox 5 years ago

    Um, does anybody ever wonder why Obama jammed the stimulus through very quickly but is very slow to spend the money? I think he is saving the money until the 2nd or 3rd year of his presidency then he will spend the money in ways to help him really create jobs and to help him get reelected. Come on, the guy is from Chicago, he knows all the tricks!

  • Troy 5 years ago

    If I recall correctly, the Obama administration jammed this stimulus through with the promise to spend it immediately, thus "stimulating" the economy. 6 to 9 months later and 14.5% has been spent?!? Chalk it up as another lie. Say goodbye to these losers in 2010. Keep up the good work, someone needs to police these frauds.

  • Troy 5 years ago

    If I recall correctly, the Obama administration jammed this stimulus through with the promise to spend it immediately, thus "stimulating" the economy. 6 to 9 months later and 14.5% has been spent?!? Chalk it up as another lie. Say goodbye to these losers in 2010. Keep up the good work, someone needs to police these frauds.

  • Forest 5 years ago

    Stimulus was intended to maintain the riches wealth after they had lost 40% of there wealth in the market. Wake up America, they care very little of you. Nothing more than leagalized corruption. Sad but true

  • Uncle Sam 5 years ago

    Its been a year since they past it and only 14% spent. The money has been allocated at a 2-1 ratio towards democratic districts and scheduled to be spent mostly during the summer months of 2010 (just before the Nov. elections.) Can you say "$700 Billion Public Financed Democratic Re-election Campaign Slush Fund."

  • Henry 4 years ago

    Thank you for the profound insight. This simply means that the cry to raise the debt ceiling is another smoke and mirrors game by the administration.
    My position on raising the debt ceiling is and will be NO!
    I pray our elected congress people refuse to give in.