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Taxpayer's Guide to the Stimulus: How to Read This Guide

Understanding bill terms for the layman

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>> How to Read This Guide

We have offered a spending summary at the top of each category, and then a break down of the major spending provisions of the bill, noting any crucial policy changes. All spending has been listed based on its objective description in the stimulus bill, though we have included analysis and commentary in many places.

Given the size and scope of the stimulus bill we choose to address major spending items, major policy shifts, and unique provisions, while providing information that gives an accurate overview of the entire bill and what it is trying to accomplish. Most of the bill is here, though to get 1,000 pages into a readable production required ignoring some minor provisions.

>> What Bill Terms Mean

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is structured just like every other big spending bill that comes out of Congress. Large bills are broken up into categories called Divisions, Acts, Titles, Sections, and Subsections. Here is an easy way to understand how the bill is written:

Divisions: The stimulus has two major "Divisions" for its content: the first part deals mainly with how money will be spent and loaned, the second part addresses tax cuts, unemployment compensation, a majority of the healthcare provisions, broadband Internet, and chief executive officer (CEO) pay limits.

Titles: Divisions are then broken down into "Titles". There are 16 Titles in Division A, and seven in Division B.  Each Title deals with a specific issue or collection of issues. For instance, "Title III" of the first division is "Department of Defense" and all the provisions of that Title are about military spending. Titles use Roman numerals, and they are unique to each Division, meaning that there are two categories in the ARRA that are "Title I," one in each Division.

Sections: Within every Title are dozens of "Sections" that further divide the bill into topics and categories.

When you read this Guide note at the top of page what areas of the bill are being covered. We largely follow the structure of the bill, but also tried to group similar spending in the same place so that it would be clear how much was really being spent in each area.

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