The US Congress was expected yesterday to pass a US$789 billion economic stimulus package that is aimed at unleashing large spending and tax cuts to help dig the economy out of a 14-month recession.
The US’ Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and Senate are expected to approve the emergency package, giving US President Barack Obama a political victory, but falling short of his goal of broad Republican backing.
The president has urged Congress to pass the stimulus bill before the end of the upcoming holiday weekend so he can sign it into law. Its goal is to create or save 3.5 million jobs in an economy that has seen massive job losses since the recession began in December 2007.
Obama, meanwhile, delivered what has become a daily call for congressional action, this time from the industrial heartland of the US at a Caterpillar Inc plant in East Peoria, Illinois. His message was blunted when the company’s chairman warned that it may be up to a year before the program has a positive impact the economy.
“It is time for Congress to act, and I hope they act in a bipartisan fashion,” Obama said, arguing his plan would unleash a wave of construction, innovation and job growth once he signed it into law.
“It’s about giving people a way to make a living, support their families and live out their dreams,” Obama said. “Americans aren’t looking for a handout. They just want to work.”
“When they finally pass our plan, I believe it will be a major step forward on our path to economic recovery,” Obama said on Thursday.
Obama said that the company’s chief executive told him that he could rehire some of the employees that have been laid off once the stimulus plan was approved.
Most Republicans opposed the stimulus plans Democrats put forward, saying they expanded government spending too much and did not include enough tax cuts.
The final package includes US$507 billion in spending and money for social programs like the Medicaid health insurance program, as well as US$282 billion in tax cuts that include small tax incentives to spur home and automobile sales as well as business tax deductions.
Senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter agreed to back the legislation if it was pared down to below US$800 billion. To achieve that, one cut was tens of billions of dollars from grants to help states plug growing budget gaps.
Still, the measure includes US$8.4 billion for public transportation and US$9.3 billion for Amtrak and high-speed rail services.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang