Is a house a home when there’s no one there?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Does a stimulus package whose benefits are “invisible” to most Americans stimulate the economy?
During a teleconference with journalists, Aaron Glantz, New America Media’s Stimulus Watch Editor, said:
People are not seeing evidence of the stimulus package in their communities. Here we have the biggest public investment since the Great Depression and people are confused about what’s in it and what’s in it for them.
People feel like the train has left the station and they’re left sitting on the platform, even though that’s not true. The Obama administration is really missing an opportunity to explain to them what’s in the stimulus package.
While President Obama regularly touts that 95 percent of working families received a tax cut, the poll found that most Americans haven’t noticed. Two-thirds say their take home pay has “stayed the same” or “decreased.”
Pollster Sergio Bendixen observed the failure to effectively communicate that the stimulus package included tax relief for workers undermined the goal of jumpstarting the economy:
The key reason for spending the $250 billion was to spur spending, to kick start the economy. By not letting people know, the administration – or whomever is running the program – made a mistake…The overwhelming majority say they did not notice; a few say there was a decrease in their take home pay.
We’re spending all this money yet people are unaware of what’s going on. It’s lack of information but it’s also bad strategy.
The poll also found a racial gap in perceptions of the impact of the stimulus package. African Americans are more positive than whites or other ethnic minorities.
Only 45 percent of white Americans think Obama’s economic plan has had a major impact on the national economy. By contrast, 84 percent of black Americans believe the stimulus “has made the economy better.”
Bendixen acknowledged that blacks’ support of the stimulus is likely bolstered by their overwhelming support of Obama.
Still, black leaders are growing increasingly vocal about the implementation of the Recovery Act. During a closed-door meeting with U.S. senators organized by the Black Leadership Forum, Danny Bakewell, chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, asked:
We’ve had landmark legislation in terms of the stimulus bill. Yet, when you talk to black businesses, when you talk to newspaper publishers, where is the money? Where is the money?