Economic Stimulus Legislation Still Under Consideration

A House democratic plan to enact economic stimulus legislation before the end of the year received a boost yesterday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke tentatively endorsed the idea and the Bush administration softened its opposition. Prior to adjournment, the House passed a stimulus bill that, among other things, contained approximately $34 billion for infrastructure investment, including $12.8 billion for the federal-aid highway program; $3.6 billion for transit; $600 million for airport capital improvement projects; $7.5 billion for water infrastructure; $5 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; $3 billion for public school reconstruction; $500 million for Amtrak; and $1 billion for public housing construction. A Senate version of the legislation was not successful. A group of economists met last week at Speaker Pelosi’s invitation to discuss the value of such a proposal and agreed that this type of spending would have a positive economic impact. A hearing has been scheduled for next week to further discuss the concept. Congress could be reconvened after the election to take up the measure.