Stimulus Aims to Pump Life Into US Economy
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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
American lawmakers agreed this week on an economic recovery plan. Negotiators got it below seven hundred ninety billion dollars. They cut tens of billions from versions in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The compromise measure needed final passage in Congress for President Barack Obama to get his wish to have it by Monday to sign into law.
About thirty-five percent of the rescue plan is tax cuts for individuals and businesses. Sixty-five percent is government spending. That includes more than fifty billion dollars in aid to states. And it includes money for roads and bridge projects as well as investments in health care, education and energy. The plan also calls for expanded aid for people without jobs or health insurance.
The economic recovery plan is the largest since President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal during the Great Depression in the nineteen thirties.
Republicans continued to criticize Democrats for not including more tax cuts. They say the plan contains wasteful spending that will do little to create jobs and will leave mountains of debt for future generations.
The Senate passed its version this week with just three Republican votes. There was no Republican support in the House, even for the final bill approved Friday.
On Thursday, President Obama said his plan will save or create more than three and a half million jobs over the next two years. To what extent that goal will be met is not clear. But that is the number of jobs lost since the recession began in December of two thousand seven. Unemployment has reached seven and six-tenths percent, the highest rate since nineteen ninety-two.
The president spoke in Illinois to workers at Caterpillar. The maker of earth moving equipment recently announced twenty-two thousand job cuts.
The president told the workers that the head of the company said the stimulus plan could save some of those jobs. Chief executive Jim Owens later told reporters, however, that even more jobs may go.
President Obama returned to his home state of Illinois to celebrate the two hundredth birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. But while he was away from Washington, his nominee for secretary of commerce announced that he was withdrawing.
The president nominated Judd Gregg, a senator from New Hampshire, last week to be the third Republican in his cabinet. But Senator Gregg said he had differences with the Democratic administration on policy issues including the stimulus plan.
An earlier choice for commerce secretary, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, withdrew because of a legal investigation. Two other Obama nominees withdrew over tax issues.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said it became clear that Senator Gregg was not going to support some of the president's economic aims. He said the senator offered his name for the job and "We regret that he has had a change of heart."
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.