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Deal Reached in Washington to Aid Economy

Bush praises proposal for $150 billion in tax rebates to middle-class Americans and tax breaks for business investment. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Last Friday, President Bush called for an economic growth package -- a plan to give a quick shot of energy to the slowing American economy. Now, the administration has an agreement with Democratic and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives.

President Bush called the one hundred fifty billion dollar deal, reached Thursday, the right set of policies and the right size. He urged Congress to pass it as soon as possible, saying the economy urgently needs action. He said the plan would lead to higher consumer spending and increased business investment this year.

The measures must be approved by the House and the Senate and signed into law by the president.

There are three parts to the plan:

First, it would give money in the form of tax rebates to middle-class Americans in hopes they will spend it. Individuals could receive up to six hundred dollars. Married couples could get up to twice that.

Families with children would get extra money. Money would also go to millions who do not earn enough to pay taxes.

Secondly, the plan aims to create jobs through tax breaks for business investment.

And thirdly, it seeks to strengthen the housing market. The plan would raise limits on the size of home loans that can be purchased by mortgage financers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This would lower interest rates on those loans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measures are "timely, targeted and temporary" -- the three goals for an economic stimulus package. She was not totally pleased with the compromise deal but says it will help the economy. If it does not, she added, there will be more to come.

Speaker Pelosi said House leaders will bring the bill for a vote at the earliest date. The Senate, though, may try to expand the package.

Many economists worry that the world's largest economy will enter or has already entered a recession.

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve moved to help calm financial markets in the United States, and around the world. The Federal Open Market Committee cut the federal funds rate by seventy-five basis points -- a week before it planned to meet. The move brought the rate that banks charge each other to borrow money overnight to three and one-half percent.

This was the first time the committee has cut rates between meetings since after the September eleventh terrorist attacks in two thousand one. And it may cut rates further when it meets next week.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Steve Ember.