Taxpayers could get checks under economic stimulus plan

WASHINGTON (CNN) — U.S. taxpayers would get checks of several hundred dollars from the federal government under a plan to stimulate the economy, congressional and Bush administration officials said Thursday.

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“Tens of millions Americans will have a check in the mail,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “It is there to strengthen the middle class, to create jobs and to turn this economy around.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “I’m looking for quick action in the House. I hope that the Senate will follow quickly so that we can put this money in the hands of middle-income Americans as soon as possible.”Video Watch what the stimulus package means »

Speaking a few minutes later at the White House, President Bush said the package will “boost our economy and encourage job creation.” Video Watch Bush praise the plan »

Sources on Capitol Hill and at the Treasury Department said the plan would send checks of $600 to individuals and $1,200 to couples who paid income tax and who filed jointly.

People who did not pay federal income taxes but who had earned income of more than $3,000 would get checks of $300 per individual or $600 per couple.

A Democratic aide and Republican aide said there will be an additional amount per child, which could be in the neighborhood of $300.

Those who earn up to $75,000 individually or up to $150,000 as a couple will be eligible for the payments, said Republican and Democratic sources familiar with the tentative deal.

Pelosi said as many as 116 million American families will get a rebate check.

Checks could be in taxpayer mailboxes by June, according to an Associated Press report.

The agreement includes a robust package of business incentives and help for homeowners facing possible mortgage foreclosures.

The Treasury Department still must analyze the numbers to determine the price tag of the stimulus package, sources said.

To get to the agreement, Democrats dropped calls for increases in food stamps and an extension of unemployment compensation. Republicans agreed to allow people who pay Social Security taxes but not income taxes to get the checks, sources said.

“This package has the right set of policies and is the right size,” Bush said Thursday. “The incentives in this package will lead to higher consumer spending and increased business investment this year.”

He added, “This package recognizes that lowering taxes is a powerful and efficient way to help consumers and businesses.”

The stimulus package may face resistance from fiscal conservatives in both parties over worries that it would increase the federal debt. Auditors report that the federal deficit — the difference between what the government takes in and what it spends — is increasing.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Wednesday the deficit would jump to $250 billion, mainly because of a weakening economy. That estimate does not include any additional spending that would be part of a stimulus package.

The proposal is intended to address economic worries stemming from a worldwide credit crunch created by the mortgage crisis and plunging stock markets. The president proposed the package last week. Video Watch a debate on whether the U.S. is heading into a recession »

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Officials in both parties credited Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs executive known for a shrewd grasp of the markets, with pushing the package aggressively.

“He’s been on the phone with practically every member of Congress — some of them a few times,” one Senate Republican aide said. “He’s not fooling around.” E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNNMoney.com’s Jeanne Sahadi and CNN’s Ted Barrett, Kate Bolduan, Ed Henry, Lesa Jansen and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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