Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 | 3:48 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is unveiling a $150 billion economic stimulus package of public works projects, middle-class tax cuts and mortgage relief this afternoon in Las Vegas, further defining the two parties’ approach to pocketbook issues hours before the final presidential debate.
Reid wants the Senate to take up the package when Congress resumes for a lame-duck session Nov. 17.
Democrats are unifying their economic message around their presidential candidate. Reid’s plan includes much of Barak Obama’s proposal, and comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s asserted this week that Congress should pass a second economic stimulus plan. “The need for this package is undeniable,” Pelosi wrote in an op-ed today in USA Today. “We must try again.”
House Republicans have been critical of the Democratic plan, calling it “irresponsible” spending. House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office said Democrats are “plotting to cash in on the nation’s economic troubles by pushing a massive spending bill through Congress before year’s end in the name of economic ‘stimulus’.”
The prescription from House Republicans includes some elements of their candidate John McCain’s economic proposal, such as tax breaks for senior retirement accounts. The House Republican plan relies heavily on tax breaks for businesses and investors.
Against the backdrop of the presidential election, the congressional debate over how to get the economy moving is unfolding along typical partisan lines, with Republicans generally calling for top-down tax cuts and Democrats trying to stimulate demand from the bottom up by getting cash in the hands of those who need it.
Reid’s plan calls for a jobs-rich program of road and school construction projects as well as tax breaks for companies that keep jobs in America, an extension of tax-free unemployment benefits and financial help for low-income families to pay utility bills.
For homeowners, Reid’s plan encourages greater use of existing federal authority to modify mortgages. He also resurrects a Republican-opposed plan to allow bankruptcy judges write down home loans.