In fact, it wasn't even $800 billion, but the Washington Post has never been very good with numbers. The issue came up in a column by Paul Kane telling Republicans that they don't have to just focus on really big items. The second paragraph refers to the Democrat's big agenda after President Obama took office:
"Everyone knows the big agenda they pursued — an $800 billion economic stimulus, a sweeping health-care law and an overhaul of Wall Street regulations."
The stimulus was actually closer to $700 billion since around $70 billion of the "stimulus" involved extensions of tax breaks that would have been extended in almost any circumstances. This was actually a very small response to the collapse of a housing bubble that cost the economy close to $1,200 billion dollars in annual demand (6–7 percent of GDP).
The Obama administration tried to counteract this huge loss of demand with a stimulus that was roughly 2 percent of GDP for two years and then trailed off to almost nothing. This was way too small, as some of us argued at the time.
The country has paid an enormous price for this inadequate stimulus with the economy now more than 10 percent below the level that had been projected by the Congressional Budget Office for 2017 before the crash. This gap is close to $2 trillion a year or $6,000 for every person in the country. This is known as the "austerity tax," the cost the country pays because folks like Peter Peterson and the Washington Post (in both the opinion and news sections) endlessly yelled about debt and deficits at a time when they clearly were not a problem.
It is also worth noting that the overhaul of Wall Street was not especially ambitious. It left the big banks largely intact and did not involve prosecuting any Wall Street executives for crimes they may have committed during the bubble years, such as knowingly passing on fraudulent mortgages in mortgage backed securities.
Typos corrected, thanks for Robert Salzberg and Boris Soroker.