Obama’s Stimulus Package: How Big? Schumer Floats $500-700B

By Jennifer Parker

Nov 23, 2008 9:28am

President-elect Barack Obama is pushing Congress for a robust economic stimulus package he can sign into law in January.

But the question is: how big?

In an interview on "This Week," Joint Economic Committee chair Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY., told "This Week" that he thinks the stimulus package should be between $500-700 billion.

"I believe we need a pretty big package here," Schumer told me, saying Congress is working on getting a major stimulus package on Obama’s desk before Jan. 20.

"I think it has to be deep. In my view it has to be between $500 and $700-billion dollars and that’s because our economy’s in serious, serious trouble," Schumer said, "It’s a little like having a new New Deal, but you do it before the Depression, not after."

Incoming White House senior adviser David Axelrod suggested Obama will push for a plan much larger than the $175-billion stimulus he suggested during the campaign.

"What he’s said is, he wants a plan big enough to deal with the large challenges," Axelrod told me but refused to put a number on it.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee said of Schumer’s stimulus number,"That’s a lot of money."

"We better be careful about not just throwing money – borrowing a lot of money and throwing it at deal and creating snow jobs," Shelby said, arguing he’ll have to see the details of any stimulus package before supporting it.

Another Obama economic adviser, New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine, is urging Obama to request a stimulus "north of $600 billion," as first reported by Newsweek. With dire predictions for the unemployment rate and consumer spending next year, the Federal Reserve is basically out of room to do anything more with monetary policy.

Members of Obama’s economic team argue the nation’s economy will need that injection of capital.
Yesterday Obama announced an ambitious spending and tax cut plan that includes a two-year stimulus plan to save or create 2.5 million jobs.

The plan would be implemented through infrastructure — roads and bridges; tax cuts for lower and middle-class workers; aid to state and local governments; investments in so-called green-jobs; and alternative energy development.

–George Stephanopoulos

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