The Stimulus Spending Bill: Is It Working at All?

Probably, a little. But it is also stimulating a phony debate among Washington's partisans

Illustration by Harry Campbell for TIME

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Congress approved last February was the first major legislative accomplishment of the Obama White House. Lately, it has also become one of Washington's most frequently tossed political footballs.

Here's the play-by-play from a few days in mid-October. House Republicans wrote (and released to the public) a letter to the President in which they claimed that with the unemployment rate at 9.8%, "it is now evident that the massive 'stimulus' spending bill enacted months ago has been unsuccessful." Obama economic adviser Larry Summers stepped up to play defense. "Thanks largely to...

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