Will The Stimulus Push Us Out Of Economic Crisis?

The U.S. House and Senate have agreed on a compromise economic stimulus package. Much was cut from the original proposal. But legislators say the $789 billion bill will help the United States emerge from the worst economic crisis in generations.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand. Coming up, it's Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, so what better time to talk about a new breed of human? I'll speak with a man who thinks we're already seeing his homo evolutis. But first, the evolution of the stimulus bill: The final vote on the $800 billion package is expected this week. President Obama is thanking lawmakers for their fast action on the measure. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama visits a Caterpillar factory in Peoria, Illinois, this afternoon. He says the passage of the economic stimulus bill will allow the heavy-equipment maker to reverse some of the 20,000 layoffs announced just two weeks ago. The White House says the stimulus bill will save or create some three and half millions jobs over the next two years. That's down from as many as four millions jobs the administrations had been talking about.

The $789 billion compromise agreed to yesterday is smaller than either of the original stimulus plans passed by the House and Senate. The scaled-down version still includes a tax cut for most workers, which was a centerpiece of the president's campaign, but the cut has shrunk from $500 per worker to $400. The additional money should start showing up in paychecks later this spring. During the negotiation, lawmakers also cut back on tax incentives for people buying homes and cars and limited a tax break for money-losing companies. That's now available only to small businesses. The stimulus bill still includes a $70 billion patch to protect the middle-class families from the alternative minimum tax. That's despite complaints the measure does little to create jobs.

It also includes $46 billion for so-called shovel-ready transportation projects. Economists say those public-works efforts are big job generators, and many lawmakers wanted more. Some House Democrats are grumbling that the comprise includes too many concessions to moderate Republicans, a handful of whom were needed to steer the measure through the Senate. Congressional aides worked late into the night to get the compromise down on paper and double-check the multibillion-dollar figures. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

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