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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
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And I'm Michele Norris.
Congressional leaders in the White House announced today they have reached a rare compromise. The deal comes on a package of tax rebates for individuals and tax cuts for businesses. Both are meant to give the economy a much needed jolt. The measure would mean up to $600 for individuals and twice that for couples who filed jointly. Families with children will get an additional $300 per child. Neither side was totally happy with the agreement. And it's likely to be changed once the measure reaches the Senate. Still, both sides predicted quick passage by the House.
NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR: The agreement was largely hammered out yesterday in a series of meetings with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader John Boehner and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. It was a remarkable display of speed and willingness to compromise — rare commodities in this Congress. Speaking less than an hour after the formal agreement was announced at the capital, President Bush said the deal met his criteria for a stimulus package that was robust, effective and temporary.
President GEORGE W BUSH: This package has the right set of policies and is the right size. The incentives in this package will lead to higher consumer spending and increased business investment this year. (Unintelligible) this package recognizes that lowering taxes is a powerful and efficient way to help consumers and businesses.
NAYLOR: Republican leader Boehner called the deal a big win for the American people.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; House Minority Leader): You know, many Americans believe that Washington is broken. But I think this agreement will show the American people that we can fix it and it will serve to move along other bipartisan agreements that we can have in the future.
NAYLOR: The tax rebates will go to some 117 million Americans. Those individuals who don't make enough to pay income taxes will get rebates of $300. The rebates will start to phase out for those who earn over $75,000, or for couples, $150,000. Business will get tax write-offs, double what they can take now on new investments and incentives to invest in new equipment. The measure also contains changes to federal mortgage programs aimed at helping homeowners facing foreclosure to refinance their loans. Still, Democrats were clearly less than jubilant about the deal. Here's Speaker Pelosi.
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California; House Speaker): I can't say that I'm totally pleased with the package, but I do know that it will help stimulate the economy. And if it does not, then there will be more to come.
NAYLOR: The biggest complaint among Democrats was over what was left out, especially extended unemployment benefits. Charlie Rangel, a Democrat from New York, said he did not understand the resistance from President Bush and Republican congressional leaders to those additional benefits. Still, Democrats in the House are expected to swallow their disappointments and overwhelmingly approve the package. Senators, meanwhile, made it clear they would go their own way. Majority Leader Harry Reid said there were a number of programs Senate Democrats would like to add to the measure, and that he consider the bill's $150 billion price tag negotiable.
Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada; Majority Leader): That's not a magical figure, and a lot of things that we're talking about here are fairly small. For example, the summer employment program for $500 million.
NAYLOR: Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York also said that as far as he was concerned, the House stimulus package needs more.
Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): Those spending stimuli should focus on unemployment insurance, but could be other things — money for summer jobs, money that can be spent quickly for infrastructure, money for nutrition assistance, things like that.
NAYLOR: Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have made it clear they're unwilling to let the stimulus measure become a vehicle for everyone's pet spending program. The House is expected to take up the measure the first week in February, the Senate soon after, depending on the outcome. Treasury Secretary Paulson says consumers could start getting their checks this May.
Brian Naylor, NPR News, the capital.
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