Bush Says Tax Rebate Checks Will Start Going Out Monday

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said tax rebates will start going out Monday, earlier than previously announced, and should help Americans cope with rising gasoline and food prices, as well as aid a slumping economy.

Democrats said they were glad the rebate checks were about to go out, but suggested that multinational oil companies were not among the businesses the stimulus package was originally designed to help.

"Starting Monday, the effects of the stimulus will begin to reach millions of households across our country," Bush said Friday in remarks on the South Lawn of the White House.

Those first rebates will be directly deposited into people's bank accounts. The Internal Revenue Service had been saying direct deposits wouldn't start until next Friday. Bush said paper checks would begin going out on May 9, a week earlier than previously announced.

"The money is going to help Americans offset the high prices we're seeing at the gas pump, the grocery store, and also give our economy a boost to help us pull out of this economic slowdown," Bush said.

Bush's emphasis on fuel and food prices differed from other comments he's made since signing the economic stimulus legislation, intended to aid the economy by boosting overall consumer spending - which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.

Bush has suggested the rebates could trigger a spending spree. "When the money reaches the American people, we expect they will use it to boost consumer spending," he said last month.

By saying expressly that people could use these one-time checks to pay for such necessities as food and gas, Bush underscored the deepening challenges facing the economy.

Democrats were quick to pick up on the change of focus.

"It's galling to think that taxpayers' stimulus checks will be lining the pockets of OPEC. The sad truth is that the average American family will spend almost their entire stimulus check on higher gas prices this year," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

OPEC is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"Unless the administration gets OPEC to increase oil supply, American consumers are going to be in for a scorching summer of $4 gasoline with no relief in sight," Schumer said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed that people "need this rebate to cope with the rising cost of gas and groceries." She said that, while the rebates would help to get the economy moving, there was a need for a second stimulus package "and we have begun some conversation with the administration and Republicans."

As he had earlier in the week, Bush used the word "slowdown" to describe the state of the economy. He has denied that the nation is in a recession, although many economists say it is.

"It's obvious our economy is in a slowdown. But, fortunately, we recognized the signs early and took action," Bush said.

The rebates - up to $600 for an individual, $1,200 for a couple and an additional $300 for each dependent child - are the centerpiece of the government's $168 billion stimulus package, enacted in February. Roughly 130 million households are expected to get them.

Bush made the comments before boarding his helicopter at the start of a day trip to Connecticut.

People must file a tax return for their 2007 income to be eligible for a rebate check.

The IRS now says all checks for those who filed tax returns on time are scheduled to be deposited or mailed by July 11.

The economy - burdened by the collapse of home prices, a financial and credit crisis, and now rising energy and food prices - grew at an anemic 0.6 percent in the final three months of last year and is believed to have gotten even weaker in the first three months of this year.

The government will report on the first quarter's performance next week.

With the economy faltering, the nation's unemployment rate has climbed to 5.1 percent, the highest since September 2005, when it suffered from the devastating blows of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Job losses in the first three months of this year neared the quarter-million mark.

Foreclosures have surged to record highs and financial companies have taken multibillion losses on mortgage investments that soured. The situation has sent a tremor through Wall Street and has sent the administration, Congress and presidential contenders looking for ways to provide relief.

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  • by joanna Location: niagara falls on May 3, 2008 at 07:18 AM
    all i wanna know is what kinda money do you plan to give to the people that made less than 3,000, what happens to them do they not get a check, if so why is that, i would like to know and im sure others would to
  • by melissa Location: toledo on Apr 29, 2008 at 02:31 PM
    I appreciate receiving the rebate check very very very much, and only GOD knows how much. THANKS!!!
  • by David Location: Manteo on Apr 29, 2008 at 07:29 AM
    I saw it on the Discovery Channel one night last week of the world's largest bank vault? It was a huge warehouse that needed numerous mechanical cranes to distibute the pallets of AMERICAN money throughout the vault. The building was chocked full of freshly printed US Currancy. Who is in control of this vault? OUR US GOVERNMENT thats who! That is where the money for this war, rebuilding of Iraq-Iran-Afganastan-Packastan-the presidents vacation spots, this "tax relief", etc.. is coming from! Our government is literarly sitting on billions of dollars and refuse to claim it even exist! The economy downfall is the total blame of our government. Our government should be fired and our president should be impeached for thinking more of other countries and thinking nothing about their own! Screw those other countries and lets start rebuilding our own! When is it going to be OUR TURN???!!!
  • by Michelle on Apr 29, 2008 at 06:44 AM
    This money, no matter what the amount will be, will be a tremendous help to my husband and I. We work our selves to death to try to make the ends meet and they still dont meet, this will help us catch up for a couple of months and hopefully not be so stressed out. Our president hasnt been much of a president in the eyes of most Americans, but at least for once he is doing the right thing.
  • by Brad Location: Greenville on Apr 29, 2008 at 04:25 AM
    To the complainers here; if you don't want the money, shutup and send it back once you receive it.
  • by to wondering on Apr 29, 2008 at 03:37 AM
    The taxes come out of our own for 2008, not from anything else. Dictator Bush is doing us no favors, just being his usual self. I can't wait until the new President and Vice President can kick him out of our white house.

    Slight Edit

  • by wow Location: greenville on Apr 29, 2008 at 03:30 AM
    Our government robs us of out taxes anyway. we are just getting back money that is ours. this will be deducted from this year's taxes. Please, everyone use it wisely. Pay off bills. Unless you are wealthy, not many can blow caution to the wind. Bush, and Cheney, you both have robbed American for 7 years...our dignity, and money. We will not be beat down. We will rise again.
  • by km Location: eastern nc on Apr 28, 2008 at 06:32 PM
    Sorry I forgot to add this. The direct deposit and mailings schedule are based upon the last two numbers of the Social Security number listed first on the return and if the 2007 tax return was direct deposited to begin with. Those who did will get theirs first. Those who got their tax refund checks by mail will get the stimulus payments by mail.
  • by km Location: eastern nc on Apr 28, 2008 at 06:29 PM
    The stimulus payments will not be reportable on our 2008 tax returns. It won't be counted as income or a loan. Check out the IRS website. http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=179181,00.html
  • by bj Location: bertie on Apr 27, 2008 at 04:07 PM
    I'm not saying I'm denying my well deserved money. I never get a touch back in income tax return that my husband and I pay in.
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