On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed an economic stimulus bill designed to stave off a recession. The bill passed 380-34, complementing the Senate vote of 81-16 earlier in the day. President Bush has indicated he expects to sign the bill into law next week.
For the general public, the highlight of the bill is a tax rebate program that will provide individual taxpayers with a $600 rebate and joint filers with a $1,200 rebate this May. Additional rebates will be issued in the amount of $300 per child. People who pay no income taxes will also get money in the mail to the tune of $300 apiece. Approximately 130 million Americans will receive the checks.
Senate Democrats attempted to add additional payments to the long-term unemployed and to low-income people to assist in paying their heating bills, but those payments did not make the final cut.
Senate majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) warned that the Republican opposition to these additional benefits will hurt the re-election chances of those legislators who are running for office this fall. "They are following this president right off a cliff," he said.
The cost to the government for this measure is expected to be approximately $152 billion in 2008 and an additional $16 billion in 2009.