Yesterday was the first anniversary of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package. Locally, Gov. Ed Rendell touted the accomplishments of the bill. According to the governor, the recovery legislation allowed the state to avoid massive layoffs and service reductions.
"It is clear to me that this has worked," Rendell said, standing at the reconstructed "Biden Bridge" that carries Route 34 over the Conodoguinet Creek in North Middleton Twp., Cumberland County.
It was on that same bridge on Feb. 11, 2009, that Vice President Joe Biden met Rendell to call for swift congressional action on an economic recovery bill. An agreement on the main tenets of the $787 billion program was struck that day.
Of course, not everyone agrees. U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, a Republican from York County, blasted the stimulus yesterday. He told the Harrisburg-Patriot News that the recovery package didn't do enough to create jobs.
Platts said the 9.7 percent national unemployment rate is well above the 8 percent ceiling the stimulus plan was supposed to preserve and that about 3 million jobs were lost nationally through 2009.
"That's not a success story," he said.
As the mid-term elections approach, we can be sure to hear more of this rhetoric. Democrats will claim the stimulus created jobs and Republicans will argue it was a waste of money, all as part of a broader debate about the economy.