With unprecedented speed and cooperation, Congress and the White House forged a deal to inject around US$150 billion into the US economy in a move to rejuvenate it and ease turmoil that the US' problems spawned in the world's markets.
Few developments were expected yesterday as lawmakers digested Thursday's announcement of an agreement between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Republican leader John Boehner and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson that is intended to stave off the first recession since 2001.
The Senate very often wins its battles with the House. But now, with the power of the administration of US President George W. Bush behind them, House leaders are optimistic that their simply drawn measure would prevent the Senate from making significant changes such as extending unemployment benefits.
The US economic problems stemmed from a collapse of housing prices, escalating oil prices and tight credit related to the housing disaster. The domestic and foreign turmoil that followed made the economy replace the war in Iraq as a chief worry of US voters as the presidential nomination campaign heats up.
As the possibility of economic recession became more plausible, lawmakers eagerly jumped at a chance to ward off the financial collapse threatened during an election year.
The package passed on Thursday features tax rebates of US$600 to US$1,200 to most tax filers within six months in the hope they will spend the money quickly and jolt the ailing economy to life. Businesses would get US$50 billion in incentives to invest in new plants and equipment.
"This package will lead to higher consumer spending and increased business investment," Bush said in hailing the agreement on Thursday.
The bill will go straight to the House floor next week and on to the Senate, where some Democrats hope to add elements such as extending unemployment benefits.
Indeed, many Democrats, such as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, and Senator Edward Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, were deeply unhappy that Pelosi agreed to jettison that proposal in late-stage talks, along with plans to increase food stamp payments.
"I do not understand, and cannot accept, the resistance of President Bush and Republican leaders to including an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are without work through no fault of their own," Rangel said.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of