Obama nears win on stimulus plan to save US economy

US Congress is poised to pass as early as Thursday a $789 billion package of tax cuts and spending programs aimed at reviving the staggering economy.

Obama nears win on stimulus plan to save US economy
The U.S. Congress is poised to pass as early as Thursday a $789 billion package of tax cuts and spending programs aimed at reviving the staggering economy, a big, yet bittersweet victory for President Barack Obama.

The new president, three weeks on the job, had wanted broad bipartisan support for the economic stimulus initiative but irreconcilable differences with most Republicans over the size and scope of the plan prevented him from achieving that goal.

Instead, just a handful of Republicans are expected to vote for the measure which includes tax credits for individuals and families, tens billions of dollars for infrastructure projects and aid for the growing rolls of unemployed as well as assistance for those without health care.

The package is split 36 percent for tax cuts and 64 percent in spending and other provisions, just below the 40/60 split Obama called for in his effort to begin pulling the economy out of the a recession that started in December 2007.

As part of his campaign to build support for the package, Obama will fly to Peoria, Illinois on Thursday to visit a factory owned by heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc, which he has said would rehire some laid-off workers if the stimulus is approved.

"We're at the doorstep of getting this plan through the Congress, but the work is not over," Obama said. "When we do, the challenge will shift to administering successfully this endeavor of enormous scope and scale."

The stimulus package was finalized after marathon talks between a small group of negotiators in the House of Representatives and Senate. Both chambers may vote on the final bill Thursday, but the timetable could slip.

Obama had demanded that Congress act before the end of the coming holiday weekend in the hope that the stimulus would begin to create and save up to 4 million jobs. Senators put the jobs number closer to 3.5 million under the compromise deal.

Passage of the bill in the Senate has hinged on the support of a handful of moderate Republicans and negotiators agreed to scale back some proposals to win their backing.

Three moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter, had demanded that the negotiators pare the bill to below $800 billion before they would vote for it.

The White House agreed to narrow a tax credit for workers that would now total $400 for individuals and $800 for couples. An earlier version of the bill would have granted $500 and $1,000 respectively.

To help states facing growing budget shortfalls, the House had proposed $79 billion while the Senate had agreed to $39 billion. They compromised at $54 billion including some funds that could be used for modernizing schools.

Money for building new schools was stripped out and congressional negotiators also scaled back tax incentives aimed at boosting flagging home and automobile sales that were deemed to expensive.

Reuters
Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2009, 17:22
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