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Senator defies Bush with new stimulus plan

Package threatens to slow the swift progress of president's narrower proposal in the House.

January 29, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat unveiled a $156-billion economic stimulus package Monday that awards rebates to senior citizens living off Social Security and extends unemployment benefits, setting up a clash with President Bush and House leaders pushing a narrower package.

Compared to the plan to be considered today by the House, rebates for most income earners would dip by $100 to $500 for individuals and by $200 to $1,000 for couples under the proposal by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. People would still receive an extra $300 per child, and even the wealthiest taxpayers would be sent a rebate.

The move was in defiance of admonitions from Bush not to risk derailing the deal with the House, and it threatened to slow what was shaping up as an extraordinarily rapid trip through Congress.

"My proposal will give America's seniors the same rebate as any wage earner," said Baucus (D-Mont.). "The White House says we mustn't slow the economic stimulus agreement down, or blow it up. I agree. We're going to improve it, and get it passed right away."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he supported the Baucus effort and stated his intention to take the measure to the floor.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) warned that the Senate was "walking on very thin ice" with the proposal to send rebates to wealthier taxpayers, which he said could jeopardize the entire package.

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