On February 13, 2009, in direct response to the economic crisis and at the urging of President Obama, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- commonly referred to as the "stimulus" or the "stimulus package." Four days later, the President signed the Recovery Act into law. The three immediate goals of the Recovery Act were:
- Create new jobs and save existing ones
- Spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth
- Foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending
The Recovery Act intended to achieve those goals by providing funding for:
- Tax cuts and benefits for millions of working families and businesses
- Funding for entitlement programs, such as unemployment benefits
- Funding for federal contracts, grants and loans
In 2011, the original expenditure estimate of $787 billion was increased to $840 billion to be in line with the President's 2012 budget and with scoring changes made by the Congressional Budget Office since the enactment of the Recovery Act.
To achieve the goal of transparency, the Act required recipients of ARRA funds to report every January, April, July, and October on how they used the money. All the data was posted on Recovery.gov so the public could track the Recovery funds. (In January 2014, in the Omnibus Spending bill, Congress repealed the reporting requirement, making Quarter 4, 2013 the last time recipients reported on their awards. That data was updated on Recovery.gov on May 1, 2014 for the last time.)
In addition to offering financial aid directly to local school districts, expanding the Child Tax Credit, and underwriting the computerization of health records, the Recovery Act was targeted at infrastructure development and enhancement. For instance, the Act provided for the weatherizing of 75 percent of federal buildings and more than one million private homes.
Construction and repair of roads and bridges as well as scientific research and the expansion of broadband and wireless service were also funded.
There was no end date written into the Recovery Act because, while many of Recovery Act projects were focused on jumpstarting the economy, others are expected to contribute to economic growth for many years.
To view the full bill, click here.
Policy & Guidance
The Office of Management and Budget frequently published guidance to the federal agencies on how the implementation requirements defined in the Recovery Act. In addition, the Council of Economic Advisers issued reports to the President outlining the impact of the Recovery Act on the overall economy. The guidance and reports are found below.
The Office of Management and Budget also provided guidance on Recipient Reporting.
Office of Management and Budget Guidance to Federal Agencies
Preparing for Implementation Feb 2009 (PDF 46 KB)
Initial Implementing Guidance Feb 2009 (PDF 547 KB)
Updated Implementing Guidance Apr 2009 (PDF 1.5 MB)
Council of Economic Advisers Reports
Economic Impact of the Recovery Act of 2009 Dec 2011 (PDF 430 KB)
Economic Impact of the Recovery Act of 2009 Jan 2010 (PDF 284 KB)
Estimates of Job Creation May 2009 (PDF 78 KB)