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Agreement reached on economic growth package

By By Jo Bonner
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Republican Leader John Boehner, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson last week announced a stimulus package that is designed to boost our national economy.
The House leaders said the bill will be brought to the House floor quickly in order to get it to the president’s desk as soon as possible.
The $150 billion package will provide temporary incentives to put money back into the hands of middle class working Americans and encourage job creation, without raising taxes.
As summarized by Leader Boehner, this economic growth package, if enacted, would include:
Tax Relief for American Families
Rebate checks will include a base amount determined by the greater of two options: (a) Income tax paid in 2007, with a maximum of $600 for a single taxpayer and $1,200 for married couples; or (b) $300 for an individual and $600 for a married couple, provided the individual or couple earned income of at least $3,000 in 2007.
A children’s bonus also will be included in the rebate check calculation. Anyone qualifying for the base amount also receives an additional $300 per child, with no cap on the number of children.
Tax Relief for Employers
Bonus Depreciation: The economic growth package will provide for a 50 percent bonus deduction on new equipment in the year it is placed in service, with certain exceptions for equipment with a “long life.”
Section 179 Expensing: This provision allows employers, including small businesses, to fully expense $250,000 in both new and used tangible property in the year it is purchased up to an overall investment limit of $750,000.
Increase in Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE)/Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Conforming Loan Limit: The conforming loan limits for both FHA and GSE (such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) loans would be increased from $362,000 to $725,000 and from $417,000 to $625,000 respectively.
No Extraneous Spending/Tax Hikes
The agreement in principle includes no extraneous spending on unemployment insurance, transportation infrastructure, food stamps, and Medicaid. (Republican Leader Boehner press release, 1/24/08)
Please keep in mind, this package is not final - the Senate has not yet weighed in on the plan, and it still has to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the president.
Keep S-CHIP for Poor, American Children
Once again, the House returned its attention to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, commonly known as S-CHIP. Last week’s vote marked the second time this Congress that the House has voted to sustain the president’s veto of the Democratic plan.
House Republicans stood by their commitment to extend and expand health coverage to poor American kids - not adults, not illegal immigrants, and not wealthy families. By a vote of 260 to 152, the House sustained the president’s veto.
The president vetoed H.R. 3963 on December 12, 2007; however, the majority chose to delay the vote for six weeks and instead scheduled it just days before the president is to deliver his State of the Union address.
This vote on the president’s veto was the eighth vote on this issue this Congress. The Democratic majority has all but refused to negotiate with Republicans and has instead chosen to push a dramatic expansion of the program.
This vote was a waste of valuable floor time by the Democratic majority. In December 2007, with overwhelming bipartisan support, Congress voted 411 - 3 to pass a long-term extension of the current program until March 2009, and the president signed the extension into law just last month.
Instead of working toward a compromise, the majority has once again chosen to play political games with children’s health insurance in an attempt to score political points during an election year.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.