The stimulus worked — Part MMCXVII

THE STIMULUS WORKED — PART MMCXVII…. A few months ago, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) insisted that the economic recovery effort that prevented a depression “hasn’t created one new job.” A reporter gave him a chance to clarify, asking, “It didn’t create one new job?” The new senator replied, “That’s correct.”

For Republicans in general, this is simply assumed to be true. Indeed, the standard conservative line is that the stimulus actually hurt the economy.

The evidence to the contrary is so overwhelming, the debate is over.

The $800 billion U.S. stimulus package has had a slightly bigger effect on the U.S. economy than was projected when it was passed more than a year ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday.

Through the first quarter of 2010, the stimulus boosted employment by an estimated 1.3 million to 2.8 million jobs, about a quarter or half million more than projected. Gross domestic product was 1.7 to 4.1 percentage points higher than it would have been without the stimulus, the nonpartisan budget office said.

Similarly, the unemployment would be up to 1.5 percentage points higher in the absence of the stimulus, according to the non-partisan CBO.

Looking ahead, the CBO projects that as many as “3.7 million American jobs could be attributed to the Recovery Act by the end of the September.”

There’s a word to describe a recovery effort like this: success.

Facing the greatest economic crisis in generations, the nation had two choices early last year: the Democratic stimulus or the Republicans’ proposed five-year spending freeze. We’re all very fortunate the latter was in the minority.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.