U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Thursday tax rebates now being issued to Americans will immediately help consumers and bolster the economy by summer.
The United States is going through "a difficult patch," Paulson said in a speech to local business leaders in Kansas City. "A good number of Americans are having trouble making ends meet ...we're very focused on getting the economy going again."
"We expect that these payments will help right away -- help individuals, families and our economy. Giving people cash means they can decide how best to use it," Paulson said adding that there are no current plans for a second round of stimulus.
Paulson declined specific comment on the U.S. dollar's recent rise against the euro, following a Financial Times report on Thursday that U.S. and European policy-makers have backed the move.
"I have always advocated that a strong dollar is in our nation's interests," he said. "The long-term prospects of the U.S. economy are very strong, and compare favorably with those of other economies of the world."
Paulson earlier visited a Treasury printing plant in Kansas City, watching hundreds of tax rebate checks being printed as the economic stimulus plan powers up into top gear.
Given the high price of gasoline, "some families will use these checks to buy gas for the summer vacation," Paulson said. "It'll help a lot of American families who need (help) right now."
Facilities in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Austin, Texas, as well as Kansas City, will print millions of checks every week under the economic stimulus plan that will provide payments of up to $600 per adult and $300 per child.
Combined with electronic direct deposit payments, about 130 million households will have received some $100 billion in cash to spend.
"When we say the check will be in the mail, we mean it," Paulson said.
Paulson said the ongoing housing correction and financial market volatility had made Americans feel uncertain, but he repeated his view that U.S. long-term economic prospects remain solid.
He acknowledged that "a good number" of Americans were having trouble making ends meet, although he added that he was not calling for a second stimulus plan right now.