Stimulus Calculus

CRFB board member Laura Tyson makes the argument for additional economic stimulus in a recent New York Times op-ed. At the same time she mirrors CRFB in also proposing that policymakers “should enact a credible multiyear plan now to stabilize the ratio of federal debt to gross domestic product gradually as the economy recovers.” Additionally, she renews her membership in CRFB’s “Announcement Effect Club” by arguing that announcing a credible plan now would ease capital market concerns.

But Andrew Samwick at Capital Gains and Games disputes her counting of stimuli. What she argues would be a second stimulus Samwick labels as a third, also counting the $150 billion package in early 2008 while George W. Bush was president. Actually, there have been multiple attempts to stimulate the economy since the beginning of the current economic slowdown.

Fortunately, CRFB has a great tool in for keeping track of economic stimuli. It is a comprehensive database of government reactions to the economic and fiscal crisis. It is a good resource for staying on top of the complex stimulus calculus. According to, there have been 9 stimulus bills (or extensions of provisions in previous stimulus bills) enacted into law since the beginning of 2008.

Date Name Gross Cost (billions) Deficit Impact
Feb. 2008 Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 $147 $114
Feb. 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act $814 $814
Nov. 2009 Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act $24 $0
Dec. 2009 Provisions in Defense Appropriations Bill $17 $17
Mar. 2010 Temporary Extensions Act $8  $8
Mar. 2010 Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act  $13  -$1
Apr. 2010 Continuing Extension Act of 2010 $18 $18
Aug. 2010 Unemployment Compensation Extension Act $34 $34
Aug. 2010 State Aid Bill $26 -$1