According to the New York Times, here, House Democrats and Republicans have reached a tentative accord on a $150 billion stimulus package, in the face of a gloomy picture of the US economy, including the first decline in corporate tax revenues since 2003. Under the tentative agreement, about two-thirds of the amount will go towards a lump-sum rebate: $300-$600 for individuals with AGI up to $75,000; $600-$1200 for couples with AGI up to $150,000, plus $300 per child) for households. The remainder (a not insignificant amount of $50 billion) will go to a number of investment incentives like accelerated deduction for businesses--i.e., more of the kinds of tax expenditures favoring business that the Congress has been doing for the last six years. (My concern--those businesses will simply undertake investments they would have done anyway--maybe accelerating them by a few months to get the "temporary" tax breaks. And of course, temporary tax breaks for businesses have a way of staying in the Code as the interest group demand for extensions of the break gradually becomes a demand for making it permanent. Just look at the R&D credit!)
Left out of the package is the best stimulus of all from the perspective both of ensuring an influx of spending in the economy and of protecting those at the bottom who have been most hurt by this prolonged period of not too strong economic growth that is centered at the top of the economic distribution coupled with actual declines in real wages and therefore standards of living for those in the lower distribution ranges. That is, the House Democrats dropped their plan to include unemployment compensation and food stamps in the stimulus package in reaching. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, however, has indicated that the Senate may add in an extension of unemployment benefits, which is one of the first things Congress has done in most recessions. The quid pro quo for not including food stamps and unemployment compensation in the package was the House Republicans' agreement to a "negative" rebate--ie, a rebate even when the recipient didn't owe an income tax liability, so long as the recipient had at least $3000 in earned income.