The Times' David Leonhardt revisits the issue, and finds some evidence that it was more effective than many think:
For one thing, growth in consumer spending was falling throughout 2007 and 2008. In 2007, it fell sharply between the first and second quarters, was flat from the second to the third, fell from the third to the fourth and then fell again from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008. It then rose, albeit not by much, in the second quarter — before plummeting, with a decline of 3.8 percent, in the third quarter. Those numbers seem to suggest that spending would not have risen 1.2 percent in the second quarter without the rebate.
The most compelling evidence, though, comes from a chart that we ran in The Times today. It separates consumer spending by those households below the 95th percentile of the income distribution from spending by those in the top 5 percent. Households in the bottom group generally received the rebate. Households in the top group generally did not.
Guess what? Spending by the bottom group spiked in the second quarter. Were it not for a big pullback by the top group, overall spending growth would have been much higher.Speaking of the stimulus, President Obama makes his case in a Washington Post op-ed.