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White House report on economic stimulus rekindles debate five years later

FILE This Feb. 17, 2009 file photo shows President Barack Obama picking up the first pen to sign the economic stimulus bill during a ceremony in the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver. The White House says a costly spending bill President Barack Obama signed into law five years ago Monday was good for the economy and helped the U.S. avoid another Great Depression. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)By Steve Holland RANCHO MIRAGE, California (Reuters) – President Barack Obama marked the five-year anniversary of a controversial economic stimulus plan by releasing a report on Monday saying that government spending averted a second Great Depression, setting off a new round of partisan debate about the decision. Obama had been in office only a month when he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion stimulus that Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives passed over the objections of Republicans. The White House, eager to lay to rest those doubts, issued a five-year report that said the stimulus generated an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years through the end of 2012. (Report: http://r.reuters.com/xat86v) The stimulus by itself raised the level of gross domestic product by between 2 percent and 3 percent from late 2009 through mid-2011, said the report, issued by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

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