On Feb. 13, 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 at the urging of President Obama, who signed it into law four days later. A direct response to the economic crisis, the Recovery Act has three immediate goals:
- Create new jobs and save existing ones
- Spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth
- Foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending
The Recovery Act intends to achieve those goals by:
- Providing $288 billion in tax cuts and benefits for millions of working families and businesses
- Increasing federal funds for education and health care as well as entitlement programs (such as extending unemployment benefits) by $224 billion
- Making $275 billion available for federal contracts, grants and loans
- Requiring recipients of Recovery funds to report quarterly on how they are using the money. All the data is posted on Recovery.gov so the public can track the Recovery funds.
In addition to offering financial aid directly to local school districts, expanding the Child Tax Credit, and underwriting a process to computerize health records to reduce medical errors and save on health care costs, the Recovery Act is targeted at infrastructure development and enhancement. For instance, the Act plans investment in the domestic renewable energy industry and the weatherizing of 75 percent of federal buildings as well as more than one million private homes around the country.
Construction and repair of roads and bridges as well as scientific research and the expansion of broadband and wireless service are also included among the many projects that the Recovery Act will fund.
While many of Recovery Act projects are focused more immediately on jumpstarting the economy, others, especially those involving infrastructure improvements, are expected to contribute to economic growth for many years.