President Bush said he would sign the $152 billion economic stimulus package into law next week. The Senate passed the measure after Democrats gave up on adding extended unemployment benefits, home-heating subsidies, and other amendments unpopular with Republicans. Bush thanked Congress for quickly passing the package, which includes tax-rebate checks that could arrive in May. "This bill reflects our principles," Bush said. "It is robust, it is pro-growth, it stimulates business investment and it puts money into the hands of American consumers." (Reuters in Yahoo! News)
What the commentators said
So much for "'postpartisan' beltway harmony"? said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Senate Democrats ignored the deal struck between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House, and almost bogged down the stimulus package by trying to lard it up with "antistimulus ideas," including extended unemployment benefits, which would have increased the time people spent jobless, and home heating subsidies, which would have encouraged greater energy use.
"The package has serious omissions," said The Denver Post in an editorial. And "we confess to shuddering at the very idea of borrowing more money in a year in which the total federal deficit, including this stimulus package, will probably exceed $400 billion." But when it comes to pumping money into a "faltering" economy, "better quick than never."
The "usual rap" against spending government money to stimulate the economy, said Paul Krugman in The New York Times (free registration), is that it takes so long to get going that the recession is over before the money "starts flowing." But this time could be different. With the double-whammy of the credit crunch and the bursting of the housing bubble, the troubles we're facing now could "persist for a long time—say, into the middle of 2010."