Senator John ThuneThe U.S. Senate recently passed a bill aimed at reviving our slowing economy by providing tax rebates to over 130 million households nationwide. I want to use this column to answer some questions about the stimulus plan and tell you why I support it.
The economic stimulus bill will put money back in the hands of families and consumers while at the same time providing tax relief to small businesses across South Dakota and the country. Leading economists predict that the stimulus bill will increase consumer spending and business investment, which will reduce the chances of an economic slowdown. Consumer spending alone accounts for 70 percent of our economic growth.
The Senate rejected attempts to add over $40 billion worth of provisions to the stimulus package, and I am glad that my colleagues took this approach. The stimulus package we passed was designed to be targeted towards economic growth, not a spending free-for-all. This is why I support it.
The Senate dramatically improved the bill passed by the House of Representatives by prohibiting rebate checks from going to illegal immigrants. The Senate bill also added rebate eligibility for many seniors, including roughly 50,000 seniors in South Dakota who were excluded in the bill passed by the House of Representatives in late January. I am also proud to say that the Senate added rebates for veterans, as well as the widows of veterans because their government benefits will now count towards the eligibility requirements.
Rebate checks are expected to be sent to consumers beginning in May. Individuals earning less than $75,000 will receive a check for $600. Married couples earning less than $150,000 will receive a check in the amount of $1,200. Additionally, families with children will receive a $300 rebate for each child.
I am pleased with the final package that came together, but I was discouraged that the Democrat leadership attempted to stall this legislation. This much needed relief deserved timely action. There are times to put partisanship aside and do the right thing for the American people, and this was one such occasion.
The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved the Senate-passed stimulus package, and President Bush has indicated he will sign the measure into law to provide needed relief to the American people and our economy. It is important that we not lose faith in the ability of our economy to rebound, and I believe this stimulus plan is a step in that direction.