I’ve been waiting for someone to collect these data, so imagine my nerdly joy when I saw the table 3-11 on page 140 of the new Economic Report of the President, reproduced below (click on the table to see larger version).
There’s a misconception that the administration only pushed the Recovery Act and then gave up on fiscal stimulus. Not so. They (“we,” back in the day) did quite a bit more as shown in the table, which provides year-by-year spending (and some subsequent savings) amounting to around $700 billion.
Now, this cuts both ways. It pushes back on the critique that the administration didn’t push for more stimulus when it was clear that the Recovery Act was insufficient. But critics from the other side of the aisle will argue that even with another $700 billion, the recovery still hasn’t taken off.
Re the latter point, remember, the bottom line in the table shows that the fiscal impulse from this spending (the stimulus in year t minus that of year t-1) was in 2010 and 2011. After that, fiscal impulse went negative (e.g., -41 billion in 2012; 253-294). In other words, even with this extra effort, fiscal headwinds became increasingly strong in recent years. As I’ve often said, the stimulus and its follow-ons worked—they just didn’t last long enough (it’s worth remembering here that the administration proposed the American Jobs Act in 2011, a set of job creation measures ignored by Congressional anti-stimulus proponents).
Second, not all stimulus is created equal. Bonus depreciation, for example, doesn’t do much and fairly quickly turns negative (i.e., depreciation taxes are just deferred for a few years). Note, btw, to the CEA’s credit, they did not include routine extensions in the table, like tax extenders, because they deliver no fiscal impulse.
There are many more juicy data nuggets in this ERP, so more to come.
Source: 2014 ERP.