House Democrats Offer Stimulus Package

House Democrats have unveiled an $825 billion economic recovery bill. By a combination of public spending and tax cuts, backers hope it will kick-start the economy. President-elect Barack Obama says it would fulfill his promise of creating or preserving more than three million jobs.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

President Bush gave his speech at the White House, and a few blocks away on Capitol Hill yesterday, House Democrats unveiled some details of the giant stimulus bill meant to revive the economy. The price tag? $825 billion. That's even more than the incoming Obama administration said it wanted. NPR's Andrea Seabrook has the story.

ANDREA SEABROOK: Legislation of this size is almost unprecedented. The only thing before Congress that rivals it is the federal budget, and that takes months to put together. So, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked out in front of the cameras, you could tell that this stimulus package was taking some serious work.

Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California; Speaker of the House): With practically no sleep on anyone's part, but that not having any impact on their judgment, we were just presenting to our House caucus a package that is $825 billion.

SEABROOK: More than half of which will be direct government spending on things like construction projects, job training, scientific research and health-care technology. About a third of the bill's cost comes from tax cuts, both for working families that make under $200,000 a year and for businesses, to spark investment and new jobs, Pelosi said.

Rep. PELOSI: It's pretty exciting. We have more money for investments because we believe that's where job creation is greater.

SEABROOK: Now, if Democrats are already exhausted by this bill, Republicans are just starting to show their dismay.

Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; House Minority Leader): Oh, my God.

SEABROOK: Minority leader John Boehner.

Rep. BOEHNER: I don't even - my notes here say that I'm disappointed. I just can't tell you how shocked I am at what we're seeing.

SEABROOK: Boehner said Democrats did not consult the Republicans at all when they were crafting the bill, and, he said, it shows.

Rep. BOEHNER: It's clear that they're moving on this path along the flawed notion that we can borrow and spend our way back to prosperity.

SEABROOK: Boehner said that many Republicans object to the huge size of the bill and the myriad government projects the money would go to. But he said he has hope his party will be able to negotiate, not with House Democrats, but with President Barack Obama after he's sworn in next week.

Rep. BOEHNER: He's made it clear that he wants to work with us. We're going to supply him with our better solutions.

SEABROOK: As for the next step, the entire Capitol is an ultra-high security zone through next Tuesday's inauguration. But on Wednesday, the first full day of Democratic domination over the legislative and executive branches, House committees will begin the formal process of hammering out the details. Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, Washington.

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