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News About the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Washington Post Opinion - Alan S. Blinder: Stay the Stimulus Course
…So it is with most of the stimulus measures in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The effects are there, but they will take a while to be felt, and they don't usually lend themselves to photo-ops. One good example is fiscal relief for state and local governments. It is not just in California that state and local governments are cutting back on all sorts of public services. Just over 20 percent of the $174 billion in federal funds appropriated for the states has been spent, and that cash infusion is limiting -- though not eliminating -- the cutbacks. The other 80 percent is on the way. But we won't see photos of public servants not being fired

Critics claim that the stimulus program is running way behind schedule. Is it? Well, no. While the administration certainly made an overly optimistic economic forecast in February, the stimulus bill, at about 5 percent of gross domestic product spread over more than two years, was never going to cure the patient quickly, or on its own. Rather, it was designed to cushion the fall -- as it has.

…But what six months ago looked like an economy plunging into an abyss is now an economy on the mend. And the stimulus deserves some of the credit. [Read More]

Washington Post - Stimulus Funds Bring Relief to States, but What About 2010?
The good news is that much of the pain this year has been cushioned by billions of dollars of federal stimulus money, which has allowed states and localities to avoid laying off teachers, prison guards, police officers and firefighters…

This year, the federal stimulus package signed into law by President Obama in February served as a lifeline. For all the intense partisan debate in Washington over whether the stimulus so far has worked, in the states there is little question that federal cash has staved off catastrophe.

'The stimulus has had a tremendous effect in forestalling some of the worst cuts,' said Elizabeth McNichol, a senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It's absolutely worked for the states.'

The stimulus money 'is helping California weather the worst fiscal crisis in recent memory,' said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance. [Read More]

Anchorage Daily News (Alaska) - Legislature overrides Palin's veto on stimulus

The Alaska Legislature voted Monday to override former Gov. Sarah Palin's veto of $28 million in federal stimulus money for energy cost relief.

Reversing a governor's appropriation veto requires a vote of 75 percent of the Legislature, a hurdle rarely met. The override passed 45 to 14…

Supporters argued Palin badly overstated the 'strings' attached to taking the money, and that frigid Alaska could use the assistance. [Read More]

Bristol Herald Courier (Tennessee) - Grant May Allow Exide to Rehire Laid-Off Workers

A $34.3 million grant from the federal stimulus package is expected to bring 120 jobs to a major Bristol, Tenn., employer that laid off nearly 600 workers earlier this year.

Exide Technologies executives said the grant will spur their company's efforts to research and manufacture lead-acid batteries for use in hybrid vehicles.

The grant was part of a $2.4 billion funding package designed to spur new battery research that President Barack Obama announced last week. These grants are part of the stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. [Read More]

Boston Herald (Massachusetts) - Gov.: More than 10,000 Mass. youths in summer jobs
More than 10,000 young people are spending at least some of their summer break working at jobs created by state and federal funding across Massachusetts.

Gov. Deval Patrick said the state has surpassed its initial summer jobs goal by committing more than $30 million in state and federal stimulus money to the task. [Read More]

MSNBC.com - Laid off? You may qualify for COBRA discount
Officially known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, COBRA allows workers to remain on health insurance plans offered by their former employers by paying 100 percent of the cost, plus 2 percent in administrative fees. But for many, COBRA insurance is too expensive, costing thousands of dollars annually. 

A new law called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed by President Obama on Feb. 17, was supposed to change all that by offering a 65 percent discount.

“Some of you know people who lost their jobs, were worried about losing their health care, couldn't afford COBRA -- we were able to reduce their costs by 65 percent so they could keep their health care while they looking for jobs,” Obama told a crowd last week...

Unfortunately, many unemployed don't even know the discount exists, and some have been given bogus information about whether they're eligible. [Read More]

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Job skills program gets grant to open up store Unemployed to get training opportunities
The agency, which coordinates state assistance for low-income residents in Benton, Carroll and Madison counties, will use funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to open a 'bargain store' named Pieces of Me in early October.

The goal of the store, which will offer surplus and used merchandise, is to help program participants develop skills required to land and hold jobs that pay $10 an hour or more, said Kimberly Porter, director of the agency's Asset Development Program. [Read More]

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