On February 17, President Obama signed into law a $789 billion economic stimulus bill known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), leaving Americans both hopeful and apprehensive. Economic stimulus refers to the use of fiscal policy – government spending or tax measures – to support or revive an economy in recession. According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office in January ‘09, the federal budget deficit will be about $1.2 trillion in the current fiscal year, and that was before the passing of the economic stimulus bill. However, with the state of our economy, economists and politicians from across the political spectrum have put aside calls for fiscal restraint and decided that Congress should spend whatever it takes to rescue the economy.
According to the new Administration, they have a comprehensive plan to invest in alternative and renewable energy, end our addiction to foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create millions of new jobs. It is difficult, at this point, to understand the dramatic impact this plan will have on alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. The limited success of these vehicles has always been the lack of infrastructure to support their development. Now, it appears finally, there will be the push for adequate infrastructure, as well as additional development funds, and all of us who have been diligently working toward this goal will see some fruits of our labor.
President Obama’s Agenda for Energy and Environment (http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/energy_and_environment)
Provide Short-term Relief to American Families
Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years
Create Millions of New Green Jobs
Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been tasked with dispersing and managing $32.7 billion (excluding loan programs), as part of the Recovery Act. In a letter on DOE’s Recovery Act webpage (http://www.energy.gov/recovery/index.htm ) Secretary of Energy Steven Chu wrote, “President Obama has set clear goals for this bill: creating or protecting 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, while lifting our country out of this economic crisis and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. To achieve those aims, the Department of Energy has been given new resources and new responsibilities.”
The stimulus plan was a main priority of President Obama’s early agenda. The plan also seeks to make good on some of his signature campaign promises, including an income tax cut for most Americans earning less than $200,000 a year. Under the plan, individuals would receive up to $500 and families up to $1,000 through a cut in payroll taxes on the first $8,100 in income. The money would be delivered through paychecks as a reduction in Social Security withholdings, and is intended to bolster consumer spending by giving a small lift to household pocketbooks.
The final bill includes $507 billion in spending programs and $282 billion in tax relief, including a scaled-back version of Mr. Obama’s middle-class tax cut proposal, which would give credits of up to $400 for individuals and $800 for families within certain income limits. It will also provide a one-time payment of $250 to recipients of Social Security and government disability support. The bill contains more than $150 billion in public works projects for transportation, energy and technology, and $87 billion to help states meet rising Medicaid costs.
You can also read the final text of the legislation as the President signed it—then leave your comments, thoughts, and ideas at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/arra_public_review.