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A sign stands posted alongside a road construction project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on May 21, 2009 in Littleton, Colo. Did the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act do its job and was President Obama successful in selling the stimulus program to the public? - 

One the most polarizing topics in this year's presidential race is the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009.

The bill, known as The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was meant to jump-start a struggling economy through massive government spending.

Michael Grunwald, senior correspondent for Time magazine, has written a new book detailing how that $800 billion package came to be. It's called "The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era."

Grunwald says the stimulus plan did stimulate the economy: "Certainly all the objective economists who have looked at it, there is overwhelming consensus that it certainly did create jobs and it certainly did promote growth after a terrifying freefall."

And though he says that many of the stimulus programs are actually popular with the public, the idea of government spending continues to be a tough sell.

"It turn out that most of the actual things in the stimulus -- the tax cuts, infrastructure projects and the clean energy -- people actually like them, they just don't like the stimulus," says Grunwald. "There's a reason that even President Obama won't say the word any more and it really has become toxic. "

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal