Yesterday on Fox News Sunday’s online-only “Panel Plus” segment, Juan Williams noted that in the previous segment that aired on television, Brit Hume was giving “the Republican narrative” on the Recovery Act — that it was “a huge blunder and it has come back to bite the Democrats and is so unpopular with the voters.” When Williams noted that “you never hear” about the successes, like the fact that unemployment would currently be much higher without the stimulus, Hume chimed in with another misleading Republican narrative — that the stimulus did nothing to get the country out of recession:
HUME: For one thing we know that there recession ended now according to the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER] in June of 2009. Almost none of the stimulus money had gone out the door so the recession ended more or less on its own than by virtue of the actions of the fed which are always more potent than anything Congress does.
The NBER did indeed announce its findings recently that the recession officially ended in June 2009, but Hume’s claim that “almost none of the stimulus money had gone out the door” by then is simply not true. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, in its second quarterly report on the stimulus, by the end of June 2009, the federal government spent $93 billion of Recovery Act monies on tax relief to individuals and small businesses, state relief and government contracts.
Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi told the Los Angeles Times that it “was during that month [June 2009] that the spending from the Recovery Act stimulus was at its maximum.” Indeed, in a report out in July 2010, Zandi and former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder found that “the stimulus has done what it was supposed to do: end the Great Recession and spur recovery”:
We do not believe it a coincidence that the turnaround from recession to recovery occurred last summer, just as the ARRA was providing its maximum economic benefit. [...] What matters for economic growth is the pace of stimulus spending, which surged from nothing at the start of 2009 to over $100 billion (over $400 billion at an annual rate) in the second quarter. That is a big change in a short period, and it is one major reason why the Great Recession ended and recovery began last summer.
And like Williams noted, the Congressional Budget Office found recently that the Recovery Act “increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise.”