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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden President Barack Obama signs the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as Vice President Joe Biden looks on at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado, on February 17, 2009. (Photo: Gary C. Caskey/UPI Photo/NewsCom)

Moving Toward Economic Recovery

President Barack Obama signs American Recovery and Reinvestment plan into law

By Laura Leigh Davidson | February 18 , 2009

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed a bill he hopes will jump-start the struggling United States economy.

At a ceremony in Denver, Colorado, President Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) into law. The package of public spending programs and tax cuts is meant to confront what some are calling the worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The President said the bill is the beginning of "the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time." But he cautioned that there is much more work to do.

"Today does not mark the end of our economic troubles," Obama told the crowd at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. "But it does mark the beginning of what we need to do . . . to set our economy on a firmer foundation."

Creating Jobs

The Recovery Act provides a major investment in the country's infrastructure. The new projects that come from this investment should create thousands of new jobs.

Obama said nearly 400,000 people will go to work rebuilding roads, bridges, dams, and levees. There will also be major communications projects, like providing high-speed Internet access to people and businesses in communities that don't yet have the essential service.

The package also provides money to create and expand "green" jobs.

Companies that make wind turbines and solar panels, and improve energy efficiency in schools and federal buildings will receive support for new projects. This "green" jobs initiative will enable such companies to keep the workers they have. In some cases, they will even be able to hire new employees.

It's not just businesses that will benefit from the new bill. The Recovery Act includes a whopping $100 billion for education. Much of the education fund is aimed at keeping teachers on the job. Many states had been planning to cut thousands of jobs in education to balance their budgets. The Recovery Act will help states keep many, if not all, of their valuable educators.

There is also money for pre-k education called Head Start and special education programs, and a fund dedicated to renovating school and college buildings.

Help for Homeowners

Tough economic times have made it impossible for many families to pay the mortgage, or monthly bill, for their homes.

On Wednesday, President Obama will announce a new $50 billion program designed to rescue the 2.3 million Americans who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

What's the Next Step?


It will take at least a few months before the effects of the stimulus package begin to be felt. Taxpayers can track where the funds from the Recovery Act are going on Recovery.gov. The Web site will give detailed reports on how federal agencies distribute money to states, companies, and individuals.

The President closed the bill-signing ceremony with words of encouragement for the American people.

"There will be hazards and reverses along the way," Obama said. "But I have every confidence that if we are willing to continue doing the difficult work that must be done . . . then we will leave this struggling economy behind us, and come out on the other side, more prosperous as a people." 

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The Recovery Act has provided the federal Department of Education with a lot of money to give to states to spend on school improvements.

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