Reports released this week show that Republican claims that the stimulus was a failure are dead wrong and the labor movement is losing no time by demanding even more government spending on jobs to break the neck of the Great Recession.
“The fact is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is still working,” the AFL-CIO said in a statement late yesterday, “generating more than 2 million jobs and laying the foundation for future economic growth.” The federation said the positive results indicate that the government must continue spending heavily to create millions of additional jobs.
In a report also issued yesterday, Ross Eisenberry, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, tracked monthly job losses before and after the Recovery Act.
“With unemployment at 9.7 percent today, it’s hard to appreciate how much more damage the stimulus investments prevented,” he said, adding, “Without the more than 2 million jobs generated by the Recovery Act, the unemployment rate would now exceed 11 percent.”
Another indication that the recovery package is working, some economists say, is that the economy grew 5.7 percent last quarter – the largest gain in six years. These economists are saying the growth is largely due to the Recovery Act and that those who say President Obama’s stimulus plan didn’t work are just plain wrong.
“The fact is that the Recovery Act did work,” declared EPI President Lawrence Mishel, “precisely as it was designed to work and it has helped to produce roughly 2 million jobs that wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t become law.”
The good news about the Recovery Act came on the heels of a campaign by Democrats, labor and progressives exposing Republicans who voted against the stimulus but then tried to take credit for Recovery Act projects in their districts.
Although the Recovery Act passed with not a single Republican vote in the House and only three in the Senate many GOP lawmakers went on to request stimulus funds for projects in their districts that they later credited to themselves.
Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who described the Recovery Act as a “wasteful spending spree that misses the mark on all counts” later lobbied with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis for stimulus funds to create 1,000 green jobs in his district.
Sen. John Coryn, the Texas Republican, after opposing the stimulus, went home to lobby the Environmental Protection Administration for stimulus funds for clean diesel projects in San Antonio and Houston. His requests were co-signed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the other Republican senator from that state. Both took credit for the millions of dollars in diesel funding that the stimulus program then provided for the city of Houston.
After describing the stimulus package as “the socialist way,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby went home to Alabama and pushed for $15 million in stimulus funds for a weed elimination program in his state. He took the credit when Alabama ended up with $6.3 million in stimulus funds to eradicate cogongrass.
One union leader said the Recovery Act impacted on much more than just the critical area of job creation, as essential as that is to an economic recovery. AFT President Randi Weingarten called the stimulus a “life preserver.”
“Kids don’t get a second chance to get a good education. The Recovery Act was the help they needed, ensuring that schools continued to receive resources so that teachers could teach and students could learn.”