Stimulus price tag once again lurches higher

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Congress’s chief scorekeeper said Wednesday that the price tag on President Obama’s stimulus law has risen once again, this time to $830 billion — or more than $40 billion more than first projected.

More than two years after it passed, meanwhile, the Recovery Act’s effect on jobs continues to wane, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which said the massive spending program accounted for between 1.2 million and 3.3 million jobs in the period from January to March of this year.

That improved the unemployment rate by between 0.6 percent and 1.6 percent, compared to where it would have been without the federal spending.

In a new report analyzing the stimulus, CBO analysts said about 70 percent of the package’s spending was paid out by Sept. 30 of last year, meeting the president’s revised goal.

And the CBO said the spending was responsible for boosting the economy by between 1.1 percent and 3.1 percent in the first three months of 2011.

When it passed, the stimulus was expected to cost $787 billion over 10 years, with most of that being front-loaded. But the CBO has regularly adjusted that cost — usually upward — and now says the 10-year price tag will be $830 billion. That’s a $9 billion jump from the last estimate in February.

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