During his first three months in office, the president pushed through Congress the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the largest economic stimulus and jobs program in history. With Davis-Bacon wage protections and Buy America provisions to keep jobs from going overseas, by the end of 2010 more than 3.6 million workers owed their jobs to the ARRA, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In December 2011, between 300,000 and 2 million workers still were employed due to ARRA’s investment in jobs.
In August 2010, the president supported an additional $26.1 billion in aid to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of police, firefighters, teachers, nurses and others who provide critical public services. As spending under the ARRA tapered off (CBO reports that 90 percent of ARRA funds were spent by December 2011), the president doubled down on his commitment to invest in jobs by proposing the American Jobs Act, which included $140 billion in infrastructure spending and state and local aid.
- The ARRA provided billions in funding for aid to state and local governments, education jobs, broadband, a smart grid, infrastructure, weatherization, transit, high-speed rail and clean energy.
- The ARRA also expanded the federal unemployment insurance program by making 200,000 additional workers eligible and provided jobless workers with $14 billion in additional income, provided COBRA health care subsidies for the unemployed and broadened coverage under the Trade Adjustment Act to millions of eligible workers.
- In his 2012 State of the Union speech, President Obama called for a $50 billion investment in critical transportation infrastructure projects and a six-year, $476 billion surface transportation reauthorization, including $47 billion of high-speed and other passenger rail.
- President Obama saved the auto industry, which has seen a complete turnaround since June 2009. Since then, the industry has added 217,000 jobs. This is both because of increased hiring in the manufacturing of vehicle and parts but also due to increased hiring in automobile dealers.
- The Obama administration convinced Congress to extend the federal emergency benefits program nine times, providing up to 99 weeks of benefits for the hardest-hit states.
- The administration also renewed support for nuclear power, approving the first permits for new nuclear plant construction in three decades.
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