Tax Stimulus Report Card: Conference Bill
The Tax Policy Center has graded the key tax provisions of the Conference stimulus bill (the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009", as amended). Our grades reflect how well these measures would boost the economy in the short run per dollar of budget cost (sometimes called "bang for the buck"). Details of our analysis are below the report card. Download complete report card in PDF format
1. We cite "10-year" revenue estimates but the values reported include both the 10-year budget window - 2010-2019 - and 2009, because significant revenue reductions occur in the latter year.
Revenue estimates for the Conference bill come from Joint Committee on Taxation, "Estimated Budget Effects of the Revenue Provisions Contained in the Conference Agreement for H.R. 1 the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009", JCX-19-09, February 12, 2009. Text of the tax provisions in the Stimulus bill as enacted is available here in PDF format.
For grading purposes, we assume that each provision will expire as scheduled and consider only the effects on aggregate demand (consumption or investment) or employment in the short-term.
Each grade depends on both timeliness and targeting. To receive an A, a provision would have to begin quickly and go primarily to people who would most likely spend it or to businesses that would most likely use funds to retain workers or expand.
We do not consider the long-term effects on the economy.
An additional web page describes current law, the proposed change, and the short- and long-term effects on the budget, the economy, fairness, and tax complexity. There, we also discuss the likelihood that each proposal would actually expire as scheduled and, for some provisions, explain what changes would raise the grade to an A.
Our report card is preliminary and does not include all of the provisions in the bill – most notably we omit provisions providing about $48 billion of fiscal relief for state and local governments.
We may evaluate additional provisions and adjust our grades and analysis as we learn more about the proposals. In addition, TPC will update its Report Card as the stimulus bill moves through Congress.