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The president said the stimulus would “lift millions out of poverty”. Did it? (UPDATE)

Welcome to VoteFacts.  February 17, 2009, as President Obama was about to sign the economic stimulus package into law, he told Americans that,

"It is a plan that rewards responsibility, lifting 2 million Americans from poverty...  As a whole, this plan will help poor and working Americans pull themselves into the middle class..."

Fast-forward several years later and let's take a look at the $840 billion dollar stimulus and where the states of income and poverty are in our nation.  Below is poverty and income data from the U.S. Census Bureau to see how those numbers have changed since 2009.  

The U.S. Census Bureau

Over the 36-month period from January 2009 to December 2011, 31.6 percent of the U.S. population was in poverty for at least 2 months, an increase from 27.1 percent over the period of 2005 to 2007.   The percentage of people in poverty all 36 months from 2009 to 2011 was 3.5 percent, an increase from 3.0 percent over the period of 2005 to 2007.  Census, Page 3

After 3 consecutive years of poverty rate increases, in 2011 neither the official poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the 2010 estimates Census, Page 13



Here are the changes to median household incomes:

Real median household income declined between 2010 and 2011, a second consecutive annual decline

Median household income was $50,054 in 2011, 1.5 percent lower in real terms than the 2010 median, 8.1 percent lower than the 2007 (the year before the most recent recession) median ($54,489), and 8.9 percent lower than the median household income peak ($54,932) that occurred in 1999 Census, Page 7



The question for you today is focused on the first claim that the stimulus would pull millions out of poverty.  Are you going to ding the president for political fiction, or support his statement as fact?  Go ahead, cast your vote.

*Updated poverty and income numbers from Census Reports 20122013, 2014:

  • Real median household income in 2012 was not statistically different from the 2011 median income.
  • The poverty rate in 2012 was not statistically different from 2011
  • Real median household income in 2013 was not statistically different from the 2012 median income.
  • The poverty rate decreased between 2012 and 2013, while the number in poverty in 2013 was not statistically different from 2012.
  • Median household income was $53,657 in 2014, not statistically different in real terms from the 2013 median of $54,462. This is the third consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive years of annual declines in median household income.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, the number of people in poverty at the national level was not statistically different from the previous year's estimates. In 2014, the official poverty rate was 14.8 percent. There were 46.7 million people in poverty. The 2014 poverty rate was 2.3 percentage points higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.
Additional Resources

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More on Economic Stimulus Speech
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As Obama said it would, the stimulus pulled millions from poverty and helped poor and working Americans pull themselves into the middle class. Fact or Fiction?
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Fact Fiction

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Voting Key


Fact = 100% - 92% True
Mostly Fact = 91% - 75% True
Slightly Fact = 74% - 60% True
Split = 59% - 50% True
Slightly Fiction = 49% - 30% True
Mostly Fiction = 29% - 10% True
Fiction = 9% - 0% True