President Barack Obama returned Tuesday afternoon to Denver, where he accepted the Democratic nomination, to sign a historic stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) as a first step to rescue a plummeting economy.
The largest portion of the bill, $288 billion, will go to tax relief, according to data
Twenty-five billion dollars is slated for education and training and $22 billion for energy. The overall funds for infrastructure and science total $126 billion; the total for protecting the vulnerable is $142 billion; education and training totals $78 billion and energy at $65 billion.
State and local fiscal relief is the next largest total at $144 billion. According to the bill’s guidelines, the apportionment prevents state and local cuts to health and education programs, as well as state and local tax increases. Another $8 billion falls into an “other” category that does not specify the distribution of funds. The act, according to the Obama administration, “targets investments towards key areas that will save or create good jobs immediately, while also laying the groundwork for long-term economic growth.”
Recovery.gov promises to provide more information on the distribution of funding by federal agencies. “In order to give small businesses and Americans across the country a chance to apply for recovery dollars to create and save jobs, some funding may not be distributed until this summer.”
Reports indicate that half the money must be allocated and spent within 120 days. The other half must be spent by September 2010, just about the time many economists believe the money will begin to have an impact on the economy.
The nation’s educators should be pleased by the large portion set aside for education and training. How the act will take effect is one of several frequently asked questions that appear on recovery.gov.
“Very soon, the different agencies–such as the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Energy–will decide who will receive award grants and contracts,” the site explains. “Sometimes the money will go to a state government; other times, the funds will go directly to a school, hospital, contractor or other organization. Agencies will then deliver that information to the recovery.gov team. We will subsequently make the information available on recovery.gov, and you will be able to track where the money is going.”
Americans also want to know how much of the money will actually reach their communities. “Until the funding is distributed by the federal government to states and local governments, and eventually to your community, we won’t be able to determine exactly where all of the funding will go,” the site indicates.
The act is more than a thousand pages long, and there are accusations that very few members of Congress have actually read it, though no doubt they went to the sections of greatest interest to them.
There are many pundits and experts who contend that the package is not enough to get the economy up and running again. Others believe it’s too much. No Republicans in the House approved the bill, with only some senators crossing over to support Obama’s plan.
“Until they restore the nation’s industrial base and dramatically cut the military budget, this county will remain in a state of economic decline,” said noted activist James Haughton.