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Governing under Stress

The Implementation of Obama's Economic Stimulus Program

Timothy J. Conlan, Paul L. Posner, and Priscilla M. Regan, Editors

Publication Year: 2017

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Series: Public Management and Change series


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This volume chronicles an episode in our national policy experience that warrants a book-length treatment. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act, or ARRA) constituted a public action that conventional wisdom said could not be accomplished in our seemingly gridlocked policy process. Yet, in the wake of the most significant financial crisis in post-war America, policymakers responded by enacting a stimulus whose magnitude was among the largest undertaken by the nations...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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1 Managing the Great Recession: A Stress Test for Modern Governance

Timothy J. Conlan, Paul L. Posner, and Priscilla M. Regan

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pp. 1-18

ON FEBRUARY 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act, or ARRA) into law. This enormous piece of legislation was one of the most important legislative achievements of Obama’s presidency, and—at $787 billion—it was by far the largest and most sophisticated piece of countercyclical, antirecession policy since the 1930s. In brief, the program provided an infusion of $275 billion in additional grant-in-aid funds to state and local governments, another $288 billion to citizens and corporations in the form of tax cuts,...

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2 Economic Crisis and Policy Response: The Context, Design, and Politics of the Recovery Act

Timothy J. Conlan and Paul L. Posner

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pp. 19-44

THE AMERICAN RECOVERY and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act, or ARRA) was developed in response to the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. According to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, by late 2008, “the possibility of a second Great Depression was frighteningly real.”1 Credit markets had frozen, the gross domestic product (GDP) was in freefall, unemployment was accelerating, and recessionary conditions were spreading quickly around the globe. As a result, unprecedented economic policy initiatives were undertaken by the Federal Reserve Board, the Bush administration,...

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3 A Lifeline to Struggling States: The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

Timothy J. Conlan

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pp. 45-64

THE STATE FISCAL STABILIZATION FUND (SFSF) was the largest temporary program of broad-based federal assistance for education in American history. It was designed primarily to help states maintain funding for K-12 and public higher education and to avoid large-scale personnel cuts during the depths of the Great Recession. At the same time, it provided an important role for state governors in allocating funds and in certifying their commitment to educational reform.

This chapter explores the design, implementation, and impacts of this unique program. Because the SFSF was intended to be both...

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4 The Rush to Pave: Adapting the Federally Aided Highway Network to ARRA

Sheldon M. Edner and Matthew J. Critchfield

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pp. 65-84

THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT (the Recovery Act, or ARRA) added more than $40 billion per year for fiscal years (FYs) 2009 and 2010 to the Federal-Aid Highway Program appropriations, growing the program to a total of more than $106 billion across those two FYs.1 This represented a steep increase, given that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was appropriated nearly $42 billion in FY 2011 and requested $51.3 billion for FY 2016.2 Further, the Recovery Act legislation specified that funds should be used for projects that can be...

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5 Oh What a Tangled Web: Implementation of Broadband Assistance Grants

Priscilla M. Regan

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pp. 85-108

CONSISTENT WITH THE GOALS of job creation and economic development, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act, or ARRA) provided $7.2 billion for broadband internet access grant and loan programs to be administered by both the Department of Commerce, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the Department of Agriculture, through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The NTIA initiative, the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP), was appropriated $4.7 billion for a competitive...

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6 Weathering Explosive Growth: Weatherization Assistance Grants under ARRA

Alan J. Abramson

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pp. 109-134

THE GOAL OF THE FEDERAL Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is to reduce the heating and cooling bills of low-income house holds. To do so, WAP provides funding for local weatherization workers to seal air leaks, add insulation to walls and attics, upgrade heating and air conditioning equipment, and implement other energy conservation measures. Special targets for assistance are the low-income elderly, disabled, and families with children.

Like many federal programs, WAP provides assistance indirectly to its target population. Under WAP, the federal Department...

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7 A Bump in the Road: The Benefits of Established Networks for Implementing ARRA under the New Markets Tax Credit Program

Lehn M. Benjamin

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pp. 135-158

IN 2009 the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program, housed within the Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, received $3 billion in additional tax credit authority as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act, or ARRA). By all accounts, ARRA’s implementation by the CDFI Fund was uneventful. Federal managers worked diligently to allocate the additional tax credit authority to the community development entities (CDEs) eligible to receive tax credit allocations under the program, and these CDEs in turn worked...

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8 Governing without Networks? Implementing the Advanced Energy Tax Credit Program

Stefan Toepler and Matthew Sommerfeld

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pp. 159-182

THE ADVANCED ENERGY MANUFACTURING TAX CREDIT, also known as the 48C tax credit after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that authorizes it (herein referred to as 48C tax credit or 48C program), was a new tool created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act, or ARRA), and one without any direct precedents in federal energy policy. The credit provided a total of $2.3 billion for investments in “qualifying advanced energy projects” to support the reequipment or expansion of existing, or the establishment of new, manufacturing facilities for various types of clean energy products. The 48C program was added...

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9 Accountability under Stress: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Paul L. Posner

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pp. 183-208

ACCOUNTABILITY HAS BECOME an iconic concept in public management—and never more so than in the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act, or ARRA). With more than $800 billion and economic growth at risk, the Obama administration placed its fiscal and political fortunes on the line with this high-stakes economic stimulus package. The ARRA called for an ambitious strategy of expedited spending and error-free administration in more than 250 programs, using far-flung intergovernmental, nonprofit, and private contracting...

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10 Conclusions: Networked Governance under Stress

Paul L. Posner, Timothy J. Conlan, and Priscilla M. Regan

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pp. 209-232

WE LIVE IN PARADOXICAL TIMES. As a nation, we have become more reliant on the federal government to resolve any number of policy problems that were heretofore the responsibilities of the private sector or state and local governments. Whether it be education, health care, or abortion, both political parties and an increasingly nonstop media deposit all sorts of issues on the federal doorstep. Yet, at the same time, public trust in government is at record lows. The two most recent presidents watched their ratings drop in the wake of numerous problems with federal agency management...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 233-242

List of Contributors

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pp. 243-246


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pp. 247-256

E-ISBN-13: 9781626163713
E-ISBN-10: 1626163715
Print-ISBN-13: 9781626163706
Print-ISBN-10: 1626163707

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 11 figures, 15 tables
Publication Year: 2017

Series Title: Public Management and Change series
Series Editor Byline: Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 967738342
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Governing under Stress

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Subject Headings

  • United States. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
  • United States -- Economic policy -- 2009-.
  • Economic development -- United States.
  • Economic stabilization -- United States.
  • Federal aid -- United States.
  • Political planning -- United States.
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