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Charlton County Herald - Do You Feel Stimulated?

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Federal "stimulus" dollars didn't go entirely to big banks or the auto industry. They didn't even all go to "shovel-ready" construction projects such as the repaving of U.S. 1 north of Homeland.

A little more than $1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds went directly into the pockets of Charlton County's elderly, veterans and needy according to the Georgia Policy and Budget Institute (GBPI).

The independent, nonpartisan research organization, says the funds came from existing programs that were enhanced by the ARRA.

In Charlton County, over $227,000 was paid out through a seven-week extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits and an added $25 per week unemployment payment.

Last May, the county's retirees, veterans and disabled also received one-time $250 payments that brought an additional $470,000 into the community.

An increase in food stamps added another $307,000 to the mix and took Charlton County's direct ARRA benefits over the $1 million mark in just nine months.

"Although the recession has battered family incomes and sent even more Georgians into poverty, the Recovery Act lessened the impact by providing a boost to incomes and benefits," the GBPI report, which calls for extending some of the stimulus benefits, concludes.

Not everybody is enamored of the program, though.

"The "stimulus' is unequivocally a bad policy," Representative Jack Kingston says. "By definition a stimulus should create jobs but we've seen unemployment increase 7.7 to 10 percent since the bill passed. Rather than create jobs, it has expanded government and increased our national debt."

Larry Williams, of Folkston, agrees.

"I'm just a regular working class guy" the 32-year-old father of two says. "I still have a job, so I don't collect unemployment, or qualify for the money the retired people got, or get food stamps but I still have a tough time making ends meet. I didn't get a thing from the stimulus and there's an awful lot of other people out there like me."

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