President Bush Calls for $150 Billion Economic Stimulus Plan

President Bush today unveiled a plan to offer as much as $150 billion in economic incentives as part of a plan to avert recession the U.S. economy. “Additonal action is needed,” Bush said. “To keep our economy growing and creating jobs, Congress and the administration need to work to enact an economic growth package as soon as possible.” In a speech at the White House, the President said the package should total about 1 percent of GDP; Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in a press briefing later clarified that number as being in the $140 to $150 billion range. Paulson also said that the adminstration expects the package to create roughly half a million jobs this year. From the Associated Press:

Economists said a reasonable range for tax cuts in the new package might be $500 to $1,000. Congressional aides said the White House plan is looking at rebates of up to $800 for individuals and $1,600 for married couples, but Paulson said the administration wants to be “intentionally not specific” in public to avoid poisoning the well with Congress.

The adminstration is targeting general economic measures here, although many believe the current economic woes are being brought on by problems in mortgage banking and housing. Paulson noted that while housing market is the “biggest issue we have in our economy … it needs to correct.” “What we’re trying to do is to provide help to the rest of the economy … to help it better withstand and weather the effects that are coming about largely as a result of this decline in housing prices,” he said. Bush alluded to the same approach. “In a vibrant economy, markets rise and decline,” he said. “Yet there are also times when swift and temporary actions can help ensure that inevitable market adjustments do not undermine the health of the broader economy. “This is such a moment.”

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