New Stimulus Package Under Discussion

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Capitol Hill legislators are busy hammering out another economic stimulus plan to help ordinary Americans, but attracting quick bipartisan and Bush administration support to help consumers is not certain.

The problem is that Democrats and Republicans have very different views of how a stimulus package should be structured, and the White House has signaled its opposition to some of the key ideas now being circulated.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took the wraps off a $150 billion package similar to a stimulus proposal made by Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) earlier in the week that includes spending on infrastructure projects, providing energy assistance to low-income families, and a mandate for the federal government to be more aggressive in using its authority to push lenders to reduce foreclosures by renegotiating mortgage loans.

Republicans, by comparison, favor suspending the capital gains levy, lowering the corporate tax rate, and providing federal guarantees on interbank lending.

[Editor’s note: The National Association of REALTORS® has called on Congress to pass a new stimulus bill during the lame-duck session of Congress later this year and to include four consumer-oriented housing provisions in the bill that would:

1. Make the temporary high-cost conforming loan limit of $729,750 permanent.
2. Eliminate the repayment requirement in the $7,500 homeownership tax credit and also expand eligibility for that tax credit to all buyers, not just first-timers.
3. Ensure the $700 billion in federal assistance to Wall Street gets filtered to lenders for new loan originations and refinancings, and not just be used to shore up investment banks’ bottom lines.
4. Permanently keep banks out of real estate brokerage and management to ensure long-term protection of consumers.]

Source: Los Angeles Times, Jim Puzzanghera and Richard Simon (10/16/08)

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