Advancing a Free Society

A Second Stimulus Package?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and unsteady. Two years after unemployment peaked at 10.1%, it still remains over 9%, in contrast to the under 5% in 2007. GDP has grown very slowly during the past year, and is now more than 10% below its potential level. President Obama is rightly concerned about the large number of Americans who are unemployed, especially the longer term unemployed-those who have been without jobs for over six months. How successful will his proposed American Jobs Act be in getting the economy moving forward at a much faster clip?

Boiled down to its essentials, the proposed Jobs Act is a second stimulus package since most of the spending is supposed to take place soon (before the end of 2012), while it will be financed over the next ten years in ways that are unclear.  At an estimated approximately $450 billion, this package is much smaller than the first stimulus package in 2009 that cost about $800 billion. The proposed structure is better than the first one since it relies more on tax cuts and direct subsidies to households: about 2/3 of the proposed spending comes from a temporary cut in (payroll) taxes and increases in benefits to the long term unemployed.

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(photo credit: Thomas Hawk)