The 2012 presidential campaign will, above all else, be a referendum on the Obama administration’s handling of the financial crisis, recalling the period when Obama’s “audacity of hope” met the austerity of reality. Central to this is the ’’American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’’—the largest economic recovery plan in American history. Senator Mitch McConnell gave a taste of the enormity of the money committed: if you had spent $1 million a day since Jesus was born, it still would not add up to the price tag of the stimulus package. A nearly entirely partisan piece of legislation— Democrats voted for it, Republicans against— the story of how the bill was passed and, more importantly, how the money was spent and to what effect, is known barely at all. Stepping outside the political fray, ProPublica’s Michael Grabell offers a perceptive, balanced, and dramatic story of what happened to the tax payers’ money, pursuing the big question through behind-the-scenes interviews and on-the-ground reporting in more than a dozen states across the country.