US President George W. Bush signed a two-year, US$168 billion economic stimulus package on Wednesday, hoping it would deliver "a booster shot" to an ailing US economy.
Bush said the world's largest economy had overcome shocks in the past and expressed confidence that the giant economic aid plan would help the economy through a "rough patch."
"I know a lot of Americans are concerned about our economic future. Our overall economy has grown for six straight years -- but that growth has clearly slowed," Bush said, as he signed the package into law at the White House.
Bush's signature clears the way for one time tax rebate checks to be mailed to tens of millions of Americans in coming months. The Economic Stimulus Act also calls for tax breaks aimed at firing up business investment.
Economists are divided on the stimulus' likely impact amid a two-year long housing market slump and a related credit crunch and after the economy lost 17,000 jobs unexpectedly last month.
Some economists have called it an election-year gimmick, but others say it could help boost consumer and business spending, but not until later this year.
US Treasury officials say tax rebate checks of up to US$600 for individual taxpayers and US$1,200 for couples, plus US$300 for dependent children, could boost consumer spending which has been pressured by sinking home prices and tight credit.
The White House said the package would provide tax rebates to 128 million US households and that the first checks should arrive in mailboxes in May.
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