Bush Says Rebates Going Out Monday Should Help Economy

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush says the economic-stimulus tax
rebates will begin going out Monday and will help people cope with
lofty energy and food prices, as well as giving the economy a jolt.

The rebates range from $300 to $1,200 and are the centerpiece of
the government's $168 billion stimulus package, enacted in
February, to brace the teetering economy. Roughly 130 million
households are expected to get them.

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

Bush estimated that next week nearly 7.7 million Americans will
receive their tax rebates by direct deposit. The IRS will start
mailing checks on May 9, the president said.

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

The Bush administration is hoping that people will spend the
money, helping to bolster the economy.

"It's obvious our economy is in a slowdown," Bush said.

Earlier this week, the president denied the nation was in a
recession, instead saying, "We are in a slowdown." But many
economists believe the economy may already be in a recession.

A trio of crises - housing, credit and financial - has
threatened to plunge the economy deep into recession.

The economy 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. A growing number of
analysts believe the economy is shrinking now.

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.

The collapse of the once high-flying housing market has been the
biggest weight on the economy.

With many people watching their single-biggest asset - their
home - falling in value, they have been less inclined to spend,
weakening the economy.

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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