Students may get $600 from stimulus plan

Sarah Steimer

Tax-paying students may receive an extra rebate slated for mid-May from President George W. Bush’s economic stimulus package, which is intended to boost the current failing economy, if approved.

The Senate approved the plan with an 81 to 16 vote last night, which capped more than a week of political maneuvering that ended only when majority Democrats dropped their demand that the proposal offer jobless benefits, heating aid for the poor and tax breaks for certain industries, according to The Associated Press. The package was approved by the House of Representatives Jan. 31 by a 385 to 35 vote.

The president’s proposal will give taxpayers up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples. Both numbers would rise if the person or couple has children. This rebate is in addition to whatever taxpayers will receive this year in income tax rebates.

The package is directed at taxpayers in general, the AP reported on Jan. 27. This means any student who made less than $3,000 is disqualified from the benefit. Anyone with more than $3,000 in earned income would get $300. Those who made less than $75,000 would get a rebate equal to the taxes they paid in 2007, up to $600.

There are no forms to fill out in order to receive the benefit.

Students are divided on whether the package will actually boost the economy. AP reported on Jan. 28 that the package may increase the nation’s deficit this year by $100 billion.

John Ragsdale, a sophomore exploratory major, said he has a difficult time finding the true upside of such a stimulus package. He said he doesn’t see himself putting the money back into the economy as anything extra. Rather, he said believes the money will act as regular income helping him pay for “the usuals.”

“Let’s say I get an extra $400 (from the package),” Ragsdale said, “It wouldn’t make any difference. I would get my car fixed or pay my rent with the money.”

Other students like Andrea Guarnieri, a junior recreational therapy major, are more excited about the extra cash in their wallets. She plans to use the money before she even receives it. Knowing that more money is on its way, she plans to “use it to offset the money I spend on spring break.” Knowing that the extra money is on its way will give her leeway to spend more over the vacation period, which is exactly what the administration is hoping for.

The future of the plan’s success is based on the understanding of citizens’ impact on the economy; two-thirds of the economy is driven by consumer spending, reported the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The expectation, described by President Bush in his last State of the Union Address, is that Americans will spend the money purely because they wish the economy to prosper.

“To build a prosperous future,” the President said, “we must trust people with their own money and empower them to grow our economy.”

Reports of the boost to this year’s deficit reminds many that the plan may not be as good as it sounds.

“(The plan) will have absolutely no effect in the long run,” said Michael Ellis, associate professor in the economics department.

Contact student finance reporter Sarah Steimer at [email protected].