The stimulus has been criticized as being too small. In July 2010, a group of 40 prominent economists issued a statement calling for expanded stimulus programs to reduce unemployment. They also challenged the view that the priority should be reducing the deficit: "Making deficit reduction the first target, without addressing the chronic underlying deficiency of demand, is exactly the error of the 1930s."
In July 2010, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that the stimulus had "saved or created between 2.5 and 3.6 million jobs as of the second quarter of 2010." At that point, spending outlays under the stimulus totaled $257 billion and tax cuts totaled $223 billion. In July 2011, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that as of the first quarter of 2011, the ARRA raised employment relative to what it otherwise would have been by between 2.4 and 3.6 million. The sum of outlays and tax cuts up to this point was $666 billion. Using a straight mathematical calculation, critics reported that the ARRA cost taxpayers between $185,000 to $278,000 per job that was created, though this computation does not include the permanent infrastructure that resulted.
In August 2010, Republican Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain released a report listing 100 projects it described as the "most wasteful projects" funded by the Act. In total, the projects questioned by the two senators amounted to about $15 billion, or less than 2% of the $862 billion. The two senators did concede that the stimulus has had a positive effect on the economy, though they criticized it for failing to give "the biggest bang for our buck" on the issue of job creation. CNN noted that the two senators' stated objections were brief summaries presenting selective accounts that were unclear, and the journalists pointed out several instances where they created erroneous impressions.