Republicans urge caution on stimulus plan

Top Republicans in the US Congress called for more time and public hearings before Democrats present a giant economic stimulus package for Barack Obama to sign after he becomes president on January 20.

Obama and Democrats in Congress hope to have an economic stimulus package of some 850 billion dollars ready when the White House changes hands, putting the economy at the top of the agenda.

"As of right now, Americans are left with more questions than answers about this unprecedented government spending," Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

"I believe the taxpayers deserve to know a lot more about where it will be spent before we consider passing it," he said.

Added House of Representatives Republican minority leader John Boehner: "I would ask the Democratic leadership to guarantee that such a bill will not be brought to the floor of the House unless there have been public hearings in the appropriate committees, the entire text has been available online for the American people to review for at least one week, and it includes no special-interest earmarks."

Republican legislators "are prepared to work with the incoming administration and with Democrats in Congress to craft legislation that will help our troubled economy," he also said in a statement.

The Democratic economic stimulus plan will be "the top priority in the first 100 days of the next Congress," which convenes in early January, House of Representatives majority leader Steny Hoyer told reporters last week.

Obama’s team is looking to craft a package worth up to 775 billion dollars over two years, but it could grow to 850 billion as it moves through the legislative process, according to US media reports. Some think it could reach one trillion dollars.

McConnell and Boehner are concerned the stimulus package under construction might lack appropriate oversight and not go far enough to put the US economy back on track.

"Surely the Democrat leadership in Congress doesn’t plan to spend a trillion dollars of taxpayer money — nearly 10,000 dollars in new debt for everyone who pays federal income tax, charged to the credit card for our children to pay — without safeguards, without appropriate hearings to scrutinize how tax dollars are being spent," said McConnell.

"We need the right mix of tax relief and other measures to grow the economy," he added.

According to Boehner, polls show that Americans "know that more irresponsible spending on government programs isn’t what the economy needs."