Five Tech Companies That Milked The Stimulus


With President Barack Obama set to be sworn in for his second term on Jan. 21, it is a good time to look at just how he handled what was one of the biggest crisis in his first term in office: the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

President Obama urged Congress to pass a sweeping federal stimulus bill and signed the $840 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law on Feb. 17, 2009, promising that the legislation would create or save 3.5 million jobs over two years.

A six-month CRN investigation into the job creation impact of ARRA found a big discrepancy between the claims from President Obama and his administration and the actual job creation tied to the government spending.

Here we present a look at the top five companies that milked the stimulus during the president's first term, an exclusive report that originally ran on the CRN Tech News App for the iPad.

Even before President Barack Obama signed the landmark $840 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law on Feb. 17, 2009, a feeding frenzy for government dollars was in full swing.

Technology companies already prospering from billions of dollars in federal government contracts lobbied hard for information technology stimulus spending, claiming it would lead to a new jobs bonanza.

"I can't tell you how excited we are about the president's commitment to lead us to the future," said then-IBM CEO Sam Palmisano in a press conference in the White House East Room on Jan. 28, 2009, standing side by side with the president urging Congress to pass the legislation. "And the support for health IT, the support in the area of smart grids, the support in the area of education and broadband, all those things are essential. They're essential in the short term because in the research we've done, working with the transition team, we know that $30 billion could create a million jobs in the next 12 months."

President Obama, for his part, claimed that "most of the money that we're investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job creation, generating or saving 3 [million] to 4 million new jobs."

Almost four years later, politically connected companies such as IBM, which has been awarded $180.85 million in ARRA funds while shedding thousands of U.S. jobs, certainly have prospered. But just how many jobs were created from the stimulus windfall in the technology sector is in question. The Council of Economic Advisers claimed that as of the first quarter of 2011, "ARRA has raised employment relative to what it otherwise would have been by between 2.4 [million] and 3.6 million."

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