Ceremony setting highlights investment in ‘green’ technology
By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
3:39 p.m. EST Feb. 17, 2009
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — President Barack Obama signed the sprawling $787 billion economic stimulus package into law on Tuesday, saying it will help the struggling U.S. economy but warning that the recovery process will be challenging.
“Today does not mark the end of our economic troubles,” Obama said before signing the bill in Denver, Colo. “Nor does it constitute all of what we must do to turn our economy around.”
But, said Obama “it does mark the beginning of the end” of what the U.S. needs to do to create jobs, provide relief to families and pave the way for long-term growth.
Obama signed the bill on Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony in Denver after touring a solar panel installation project at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Among other things, the bill funnels money to alternative energy projects, provides tax cuts for individuals and businesses and gives aid to states.
Congress approved the bill on Feb. 13. Democrats voted overwhelmingly in the House and Senate to back the bill, but no Republicans voted for it in the House and only three voted for it in the Senate.
Obama has repeatedly described the stimulus as the first in a multi-part strategy to hasten an economic recovery. Read a summary of the stimulus.
On Wednesday, the administration plans to announce details about a $50 billion program to modify mortgages for troubled homeowners. The Treasury Department plans to use $50 billion of the remaining $350 billion in a bank-bailout fund for a program to help troubled homeowners avoid defaulting on their loans by subsidizing mortgage payments.
The administration is also preparing to receive restructuring plans on Tuesday from General Motors Corp. (GM) and Chrysler LLC.
Obama pushed Congress hard for the stimulus package, which contains some of the proposals he campaigned on, or variations of them.
Tax cuts make up about one-third of the stimulus package. They include the $400 payroll-tax cut for workers, $100 less than Obama had proposed during his presidential campaign. Also included is relief from the alternative minimum tax for millions of middle-income taxpayers.
Lawmakers agreed to spend $30 billion to modernize the electric grid, spur advanced battery manufacturing and fund energy efficiency projects. There is $29 billion included for road and bridge infrastructure construction and $19 billion for hospitals and doctors who computerize their medical records.
Obama and Democrats have promoted the bill as a job-creating measure but Republicans have said it’s full of wasteful spending.
In January, the nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.6% and nonfarm payrolls fell by the largest amount in 34 years