Biden: Deal near on stimulus plan

The incoming Obama administration is nearing agreement with congressional Democrats on a huge emergency spending bill intended to jolt the weak U.S. economy and create 3 million jobs over two years, Vice President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

Asked whether an agreement on the shape of the stimulus bill would be reached by Christmas, Biden said: "I think we’re getting awful close to that."

But he refused to divulge how much the measure would cost taxpayers once the team of President-elect Barack Obama takes office on January 20.

In recent days, government sources have talked about moving a bill through Congress next month with a price tag in the range of $675 billion to $775 billion over two years.

Others have speculated on a somewhat larger overall expenditure to pay for road and bridge rebuilding, investments in mass transit systems, middle-class tax cuts and expanded aid for states and the poor.

Reacting to the worsening economy, which the government on Tuesday said shrank by an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the third quarter, Biden noted that the incoming administration has had to raise its job-creation goals to 3 million, from earlier projections of 2.5 million, over the next two years.

"We don’t think it’s going to require any significantly larger increase in investment to do that," Biden said.

In upbeat comments about the outlook for the stimulus legislation Congress will consider when it convenes on January 6, Biden said: "It’s clear that we’re all on the same page, including our Republican colleagues" on the need for a "substantial" bill to create jobs.

"We’re all getting very close to an overall number and we’re getting close to the specific kinds of investment," Biden said.

Some Republicans expressed reservations.

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said Republicans wanted to cooperate with Obama to help the economy.

"But we have grave reservations about taking nearly $1 trillion from struggling taxpayers and spending it on government programs in the name of economic ‘stimulus,’" he said.

Boehner has suggested other ways to stimulate the economy, including providing new tax breaks to some companies.

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Early this year, Congress and Republican President George W. Bush enacted an economic stimulus law costing $168 billion over two years, mostly in the form of income tax rebates and tax breaks for businesses.

As the crisis worsened, the Bush administration was given authority by Congress to spend up to $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue the nation’s banking system.

Obama will take office with the U.S. economy in a year-long recession that has brought rising rates of joblessness and home foreclosures. Many economists predict conditions will get worse for at least the next several months.

Obama has vowed to place top priority on righting the economy and his fellow Democrats in Congress are hoping to put a stimulus bill on his desk by January 20 or shortly thereafter.

Obama’s chief White House economic advisor, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, told reporters that without action, "we will almost certainly face the worst economic downturn since the Second World War."

Biden and Summers made their remarks to reporters before a meeting of top advisors on the economy, health care and energy.

While there appears to be widespread backing for a large stimulus bill, Obama and congressional leaders also say they want to demonstrate they are serious about tackling huge government budget deficits that will only get worse with the additional emergency spending being contemplated.

Congressional aides say the stimulus bill is likely to have provisions making it tougher for the government to spend beyond its means over the long term.

Moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives also are pushing for language that would nudge Congress and Obama toward taking on reforming the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid retirement and health programs that are costing more and more as the U.S. population ages.

6 Responses to "Biden: Deal near on stimulus plan"

  1. bryan mcclellan  December 26, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Stimulus and Reform,

    Sounds like bend over and don’t let us hear you bitch about it Mr and Mrs Taxpayer.

    If the stupid bastards would shut down the junk tidal wave of inferior products from China and return this countries manufacturing base to half of it’s former strength we just might be able to work our way out.

    There are many measures that can be taken but until these pecker heads stop pandering to overseas interests we will drown in the ceaseless deluge of cheap crap and potentially poisonous products from the far east while waving goodbye to the coming generations future.

    Buy American made, whatever it is, if you can find it. We can create the market for American products by our refusal to purchase from the clearing houses of crap.

    Stand up, support our workers, or lay down and be cursed by your descendants.

  2. acf  December 27, 2008 at 1:23 am

    I agree that American made products are hard to find. There’s a reason for that. Manufacturing has been outsourced offshore. Companies looking to cut costs moved their manufacturing offshore because the labor costs there are a tiny fraction of what US costs are. Less costs….more profit. Also, we are largely driven by price. It’s the reason why we shop at sales. It’s also why Walmart and Target do well, while Macy’s and Nordstrom’s struggle to find a niche willing to pay their prices. As long as the American consumer feels he has to make his purchase choices based heavily on price, things are not going to change. I’m sorry the worker at the plant that makes XYZ widgets lost his job because I chose the lower cost one made in Maylasia, but I have limited dollars to spend, and I can’t afford the American made one, when I can find it. What’s worse, I don’t have a solution to the problem. I only know I can’t afford to be generous to help the American factory worker no matter what the long term implications are.

  3. Carl Nemo  December 26, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Sound advice Bryan, but rest assured these faux rescuers although possibly well-intentioned with their bailout schemes shouldn’t even be allowed to handle the disbursement of U.S. tax dollars.

    They have no respect for money or even what it takes to make an honest buck. They’re simply entrenched, flim flam bureaucrats and are the ones that have gotten us in this mess to begin with via their love affair with outsourcing along with the granting of an endless supply of H1-B visa’s that enable offshore personnel to staff many if not most of America’s better paying, hi-tech jobs at lower wage and benefit scales compared to our citizens…!

    The low-skilled labor intensive jobs were filled by illegals from south of the border, again with their complicity; ie., their “eyes wide shut” concerning immigration law enforcement… : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. erika morgan  December 28, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Why is it Government’s job to prop up American business? As a manufacturer of quality, I can tell you quality will sell in the end. People waste money on the cheap product, it breaks, they have a yen for what it promised to do, eventually they get the well built quality product that can do the job for them.

    To do some Xmas shopping I went into a FredMeyer, the check out line went from the garden section to the food section. Once I had taken scene in, I went across the street to a small bulk foods health food store, the owner and his parents helped me find everything I needed and I spent $300.00 in there. If more of us would act like I did our home grown business would be in better shape. Three days latter I was at “Top Food” and saw that I had paid about half for the things I bought at the family business and the service was sure far superior and way more friendly in the family store. I think we have so much junk glitzed to us that we are having a hard time seeing real quality or recognizing quality in the products we take home and we are so used to being cheated out of our cash we think this is the only way it can be.

  5. woody188  December 29, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Bryan is right. Stimulus won’t help without comprehensive trade and immigration reform. Might as well be handing our tax dollars directly to Asian manufacturers.

  6. bryan mcclellan  December 29, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    That’s what really hurts Woody, we have the affluent and powerful turning their backs to the very ones that generated their wealth and power.It was with sweat, blood, and an honest days work that enabled this nation to prosper, and now we are forced to watch these very fruits be torn from our lips without the slightest regard for our sustenance. HACK!

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