Working closely with President-elect Barack Obama, House Democrats on Thursday called for $825 billion in federal spending and tax cuts to revive the moribund economy, with strong emphasis on energy, education, health care and jobs-producing highway construction.
The legislation calls for federal spending of roughly $550 billion and tax cuts of $275 billion over the next two years—totals all but certain to rise as it makes its way through Congress.
"Immediate job creation and continuing job creation" are the twin goals, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a news conference. Joblessness has risen sharply in recent months, and Obama has warned it could reach double digits unless action is taken to invigorate the economy.
At $825 billion, the legislation would be one of the largest bills ever to move through Congress, and by traditional standards, lawmakers were moving with unusual speed. Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate Majority Leader, have pledged to have it ready for Obama's signature by mid-February.
The measure calls for $87 billion to help the states meet the rising cost of providing health care for the poor in the recession, and another $39 billion to subsidize coverage by out-of-work wage-earners who cannot afford the cost of their employer-covered health care.
More than $100 billion is ticketed for education, including money for school districts to shield them from the effects of state cutbacks in services.
Democrats also provided tens of billions in spending and tax breaks designed to lessen the nation's dependence on oil as a principal source of energy.
"At first glance, it appears that my Democratic colleagues think they can borrow and spend their way back to prosperity with a half trillion dollars of new spending and less tax relief than President-elect Obama has been talking about," said House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio.