The stimulus was the biggest middle-class tax cut in history

I was disappointed by some compromises made to pass the stimulus (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in February 2009. I felt President Obama made too many concessions in the fruitless pursuit of Republican votes, and that too much of the cost went toward tax cuts that would be slower-acting and less stimulative than certain forms of government spending.

That said, the tax cuts in the stimulus will help tens of millions of American families, particularly those with working-class or middle-class incomes. Citizens for Tax Justice has calculated that "the major tax cuts enacted in the 2009 economic stimulus bill actually reduced federal income taxes for tax year 2009 for 98 percent of all working families and individuals." In terms of the number of Americans who benefited, the stimulus bill was the biggest tax cut in history.

In addition, "the estimated $282 billion in tax cuts [from the stimulus] over two years is more than either of the 2001-2002 or the 2004-2005 Bush tax cuts or the Kennedy or Reagan tax cuts." George W. Bush's tax cuts were more costly to the U.S. Treasury over a 10-year period, but as Anonymous Liberal noted last year,

The Bush tax cuts were skewed dramatically toward the wealthy. In 2004, 60% of the tax cuts went to the top 20 percent of income earners with over 25% going to the top 1% of income earners. Those numbers have increased since then as the cuts to the estate tax have taken effect.

Tomorrow is the deadline for most Americans to file their tax returns, and Republicans will try to harness the tea party movement's anger at what they view as excessive taxes and spending. However, many ordinary people may be shocked to learn how large their refunds are this year. According to the White House, "the average tax refund is up nearly 10 percent this year."

Democrats should not be afraid to vigorously defend the stimulus bill during this year's Congressional campaigns. I wish the recovery act had been larger and better targeted, but the bottom line is that Republicans voted against the largest ever middle-class tax cut.

The White House website has this Recovery Act Tax Savings Tool to help people find benefits to which they are entitled. The White House press office released this fact sheet with much more detailed information on April 12. Note: if you have already filed your taxes, you can amend them after April 15 to collect on any credits from the stimulus bill that you missed.

Governor Schwarzenegger on the Fiscal Stimulus: "It Worked"

Appearing on ABC's This Week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called out members of his own party for their hypocrisy on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In hard hit California, the Republican Governor noted that the fiscal stimulus was responsible for saving or creating 150,000 jobs. Of the $330 billion available under ARRA nationwide for state aid, California received approximately $31 billion that helped offset California's budget deficit keeping vital public services functioning.

As of year-end 2009, California’s unemployment rate was 12.4 percent with the number of unemployed in California hitting 2,254,000.

There's an Act for That

Kudos to the Democrats on the House Labor and Education Committee who have released the above 30 second spot to mark the one year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Learn more at the website of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

Calling Them Out

Rachel Maddow has been doing this for weeks but it's nice to see the White House calling out the rank hypocrisy of the GOP. From The Hill:

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the number two House Republican a ‘hypocrite’ for criticizing the use of stimulus funds while at the same time requesting them for his district.

Democrats have been defending the $787 billion program Wednesday, its one-year anniversary.

Gibbs specifically targeted House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) for his criticism of the package, noting that Cantor has requested funds for a high-speed rail project in his district.

"In Alabama, we call that hypocrisy," Gibbs, an Auburn-native said. "In Washington, we call that par for the course."

Long overdue. More please.

He Kept Us Out of a Depression

The President's remarks today on the one year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

I'm not sure if "He Kept Us Out of a Depression" is a winning campaign slogan but it's true.

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