The $825 billion economic stimulus law signed by President Obama in February 2009 is still having a positive impact on the economy some 30 months later, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
In its latest quarterly report, the agency said the law's combination of aid to states and localities, public works projects, tax cuts and other spending increased the number of people with jobs by 1 million to 2.9 million between April and June of this year.
It said the law lowered the unemployment rate for that quarter by 0.5 to 1.6 percentage points -- meaning the rate could have been above 10% without the law's stimulative provisions. And it said the law boosted economic growth in that quarter by 0.8% to 2.5%.
The CBO's analyses have done little to temper the partisan debate that has raged over the stimulus law almost since it was signed.
Before entering the White House, Obama's economic advisors predicted a package they wanted to be even larger would hold unemployment below 8%, and it hasn't come close. Today, 30 months after the law was passed, it remains at 9.1%.
Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have consistently argued that the law did more harm than good -- boosting the nation's $14.6 trillion debt by nearly $1 trillion without benefitting workers or companies.
But the CBO report argues otherwise. While the benefits of the law have begun to dissipate 2 1/2 years later, the agency clearly says things would have been worse without it.
Since the spending was temporary, the law's biggest impact was felt in 2010. At various points last year, the CBO estimated economic growth was boosted by 1.8% to 4.6%, employment boosted by 1.4 million to 3.6 milllion jobs, and unemployment lessened by 0.8 to 2 percentage points.