"Recent policies have sought to contain damages spilling over from housing and financial markets to the broader economy, including monetary policy, the responsibility of the Federal Reserve, and fiscal policy. Legislators and the President adopted an economic stimulus package (P.L. [Public Law] 110-185) on February 13. Another stimulus package, H.R. 7110, passed the House in 2008. Over the past few months, the government has also intervened in specific financial markets, including financial assistance to troubled firms. Legislation authorizing a massive intervention in financial markets was adopted on October 3 (P.L. 110-343); it includes authority to purchase $700 billion in troubled assets. In addition, the Fed has lent directly to financial institutions through an array of new facilities, and the amounts of loans outstanding have risen into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Congressional leaders and President-Elect Obama have now proposed much larger stimulus packages, ranging from $600 to $850 billion, comprised of spending and tax cuts. The estimated budget cost of the stimulus enacted in February was about $150 billion for FY2008. The largest provision (in terms of budgetary cost) was a tax rebate for individuals. The Senate committee bill also included an extension in unemployment compensation benefits; the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental appropriations completed June 26 included a 13-week extension, signed on June 30. The current stimulus proposal would increase spending on infrastructure, unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and food stamps by $50 to $60 billion; unemployment was extended by an additional seven weeks on November 21, 2008."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34349
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