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Charlotte Talks Politics: Congress Was Divided Over Stimulus For Obama. Not So For Coronavirus.

Flickr / frankieleon

Monday, April 27, 2020

There was bipartisan agreement for the recently passed coronavirus stimulus package - the most expensive to ever come out of Congress. It's quite a change from 2009, when President Obama's stimulus plan passed with near-unanimous Republican opposition. 

The political environment in which the CARES Act passed in late March is striking in comparison to President Obama’s stimulus response to the Great Recession. Conservatives railed against it as socialism and wanted to know how it would to be paid for.

Not a single House Republican voted for the package. Then-Congressman Mike Pence predicted the stimulus "won't work." The future vice president said it "may do more harm than good."

The opposite turned out to be the case, says POLITICO’s Mike Grunwald, who exhaustively studied the 2009 stimulus, as did political scientist Tim Conlan.

Credit Pete Souza / The White House
President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Biden, signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009.

Why are the politics of stimulus so different today? What is the legacy of the Obama stimulus, and what can be learned from it as the country navigates another severe economic downturn?


Michael Grunwald, POLITCO Magazine senior writer, author of "The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era" (@MikeGrunwald)

Timothy Conlan, professor of government at George Mason University, co-author of "Governing Under Stress: The Implementation of Obama's Economic Stimulus Program"

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A veteran of Charlotte radio news, Chris joined the "Charlotte Talks" staff in January 2016, but has been listening to WFAE since discovering the station as a high schooler.