The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in 2009 to stimulate the economy and save the U.S from falling into a depression. But was it money well spent? ProPublica investigative reporter Michael Grabell takes on that question in his new book "Money Well Spent: What Really Happened to the Trillion-dollar Stimulus Plan," an expansive account of how the trillion dollar stimulus program came about.
Grabell travelled to more than a dozen states, scouring records to determine how the stimulus money was spent and to assess whether, as many Republicans contend, the plan paid for silly and wasteful projects like “a tunnel for turtles in Florida.” But critics of the stimulus come in a variety of political hues.
Progressives argue that the President Obama should have asked for more money from Congress to stimulate the economy. They claim that the recession would have been less severe if the stimulus had been bigger. According to Grabell, a bigger stimulus was politically untenable.
Was it money well spent? Did the stimulus save the American economy from an even deeper economic crisis than the one we are now recovering from? Was it a wasteful, costly exercise that increased the national debt but didn’t fix our economic problems? Or was is too little to late?
Michael Grabell, author of "Money Well Spent: The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History" (PublicAffairs)