Stimulus Gets B-Minus Grade

ABC News panelists disagree whether stimulus was vital but argue it didn't fail.

ByABC News
February 17, 2010, 5:50 PM

Feb. 18, 2010 — -- What kind of grade do experts give the economic stimulus bill following the one-year anniversary of its enactment?

We put that question to our ABC News panel of economists. What came back: no "A's" for Washington -- but no "F's" either.

The average grade was a B-minus, with one economist saying it really might be more accurate to grade it "incomplete."

Most of our panelists think the economy would be worse today without the big aid package, which totaled $787 billion and was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009. The bill, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, included money for tax cuts, infrastructure projects, education and aid to state and local governments.

"The stimulus worked," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank. Without it, "the unemployment rate would probably be closer to 11 percent" and the economy might not have grown at all last year.

Mark Zandi of Moody's thought the nation would be "still in recession."

"It played a significant role supporting recovery," said economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial.

Not all the economists who responded to our survey agreed the stimulus was necessary.

"Throwing a trillion dollars at anything will move it," said Standard and Poor's David Wyss, "but the recovery would be beginning and the unemployment rate nearing a peak" without it.

"The economy would probably be recovering," argued Jay Bryson of Wells Fargo, just maybe not "as fast as it is."