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Despite What GOP Candidates Say, the First Stimulus Worked The Recovery Act Was a Success

While Republicans continue trying to hammer the Recovery Act as a failure, impartial experts continue saying it was a success.

Following President Obama's long-awaited jobs speech last night, Michele Bachmann, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, told Fox News, "More stimulus? Do we really need 'son of stimulus'? We passed a trillion dollars in stimulus. Will billions more do the job?"

Ever since Obama put his $787 billion economic stimulus law into effect in 2009, the GOP has consistently denounced it as a waste of money, a charge that is intensifying now that Obama has proposed a second stimulus package. Unfortunately for them, the Congressional Budget Office has just as consistently said the stimulus was a very important part of making sure America's recession didn't turn into a full-fledged depression.

Consider this jobs chart from Jared Bernstein, former chief economic adviser to Joe Biden:

Bernstein writes that "job growth ... reversed course soon after [the Recovery Act's] passage, and broke zero—net job growth—in March of 2010 (the addition and subtraction of Census workers that year distort the picture somewhat, but they’re not included in the private sector data, which present a clearer view of what happened)."

Did the stimulus skyrocket America to new heights of financial glory? Obviously not. But it did help stem the bleeding in a very real way, and that's no failure. If the Republicans want to attack Obama's latest jobs plan based on its merits, that's fine. But to hold up the last stimulus as evidence a new plan won't succeed is supremely inaccurate.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Gage Skidmore

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