WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers used the anniversary of the 2009 stimulus law to debate the measure's effectiveness, following the release of a White House report.
In one of his first acts in the White House, President Obama signed the Democratic-supported American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provided more than $800 billion in combined tax cuts and new spending measures Democrats believed would slow the country's economic slide after the financial crisis. Nearly all Republicans voted against the measure.
Among other things, the measure included more spending in food stamps and unemployment benefits, as well as infrastructure programs, and offered financial incentives for people to trade in their older, less eco-friendly automobiles.
On Monday, the White House on Monday released a 70-page report that said the law "created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years" and raised the gross domestic product by between 2 percent and 3 percent from late 2009 through mid-2011, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report also said it spur 15,000 transportation projects and helped build or improve nearly 6,000 miles of railway lines.
The White House said the law "had at most a minimal impact on the long-run debt" because the economic growth spurred by the law either offset or "eliminated" the costs.
On Monday, Republicans declared the law a failure, the Journal said.
In statements issued by the Republican National Committee and members of Congress, the GOP said ARRA was a waste of money and ineffective in getting Americans back into the workforce.
"If you recall five years ago, the notion was that if the government spent all this money -- that, by the way, was borrowed -- that somehow the economy would begin to grow and create jobs," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a video released Monday morning. "Well, of course, it clearly failed."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer countered by saying more must be done to maintain economic recovery, including raising the minimum wage, reinstating unemployment benefits and overhauling immigration laws, the Journal said.
"As we mark this anniversary, I urge Republicans to set aside their partisan agenda and instead work with Democrats to complete the work of our recovery," Hoyer said.
The Congressional Budget Office last year said the law, as of 2012, likely raised real GDP by between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent, reduced the jobless rate between 0.1 percentage point and 0.6 percentage point, and increased the number of people employed by between 200,000 and 1.1 million.