search by author or title

Money Well Spent?

The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History


Michael Grabell (View Bio)
Hardcover: Public Affairs, 2012.

Money Well Spent?

The 2012 presidential campaign will, above all else, be a referendum on the Obama administration’s handling of the financial crisis, recalling the period when Obama’s “audacity of hope” met the austerity of reality. Central to this is the ’’American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’’—the largest economic recovery plan in American history. Senator Mitch McConnell gave a taste of the enormity of the money committed: if you had spent $1 million a day since Jesus was born, it still would not add up to the price tag of the stimulus package.

A nearly entirely partisan piece of legislation— Democrats voted for it, Republicans against— the story of how the bill was passed and, more importantly, how the money was spent and to what effect, is known barely at all. Stepping outside the political fray, ProPublica’s Michael Grabell offers a perceptive, balanced, and dramatic story of what happened to the tax payers’ money, pursuing the big question through behind-the-scenes interviews and on-the-ground reporting in more than a dozen states across the country.

"A deeply reported, well-written account." — Kirkus Reviews

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was priced at $787 billion when enacted; the official estimate is now more than $800 billion. In Money Well Spent? Michael Grabell of the nonprofit news organization ProPublica explains where all those dollars went. Mr. Grabell does such a thorough job of cataloging the program’s misdirected funds and misplaced priorities that one wonders how he settled on the inquisitive title. Page after page of Money Well Spent? seems to answer with a resounding ‘No!’ But despite the evidence that he has painstakingly compiled, the author seems reluctant to conclude that the stimulus program was not worth doing. He makes a point of saying that the country’s unemployment rate would have risen much higher without the government’s spending binge. Money Well Spent? would make a compelling book-club selection for politically oriented readers, who could argue over which recipient of taxpayer funds was the least deserving. The failed solar-panel maker Solyndra has attracted a federal investigation, but there are other worthy competitors for the title." — James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal

"In this very well researched and accessible-to-the-general reader book, Grabell concludes that the Recovery Act -- the stimulus -- failed to live up to its promise ‘not because it was too small or because Keynesian economics is obsolete, but because it was poorly designed.’… I recommend Money Well Spent? as a model of investigative journalism." — David M. Kinchen, Huntington News

"This thorough exploration of the stimulus will educate readers about where money went, not just in the focus cities but around the country, and the lasting impact of the Great Recession." — Publishers Weekly

Up Back to Top