President Barack Obama’s February 2009 stimulus bill, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was a political disaster. It helped fuel the Republican revival of 2010 and now stars in Mitt Romney’s ads. The president even stopped uttering the word “stimulus.”
But the bill was one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in modern history. It was the purest distillation of what Obama meant by change, transforming our approaches to energy, education, health care, transportation and the economy, promoting long-term reinvestment as well as short-term recovery. Just about everything Americans think they know about it is wrong. Here are a few examples.