Clinton offer affordable economic plan

January 11, 2008 6:00:30 PM PST
Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday called for Congress to pass an economic stimulus package that could cost as much as $110 billion to help low-income families keep their homes, to subsidize heating costs this winter and perhaps refund some taxes. The Democratic presidential hopeful, on a two-day swing through this key Feb. 5 primary state, called on Congress to work with the White House to pass a $70 billion "immediate jump-start" to help people spend more money in the market and perhaps follow with another $40 billion in tax refunds.

"This economy may be working for some people, but it sure isn't working for everybody," said Clinton, standing in an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall with union members.

The New York senator has said she fears a recession, although she and aides refused to label the current conditions that, instead calling it "a really troubled economic time."

"The economists can argue about it, you can see them on TV," she said. "The statistics are one thing. The stories are something altogether different."

Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling said the stimulus package would help lower-income families who traditionally save less than those with higher incomes.

The proposal, Clinton's campaign said, would provide 37 million Americans with energy assistance. Hundreds of thousands more families would get help to avoid foreclosure, according to the proposal.

Sperling didn't say how they would pay for the new plan, but he insisted it was a one-time expenditure. Advisers said they would not raise taxes or cut other programs, likely meaning it would be added on to the national debt.

"We're not going to make progress on a lot of these tough issues until we realize we've got to get these two oil men out of the White House," Clinton said to cheers, referring to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and their previous careers in the energy sector.

Clinton said she cannot wait until she wins the White House to take action.

"Too many people will be hurt, too many jobs will be lost, too many homes will be foreclosed," she said.

Clinton's plan comes as Democrats controlling Congress look at tax rebates, extended unemployment benefits and more food stamps to stimulate the sagging economy. The White House also is examining broad-based tax rebates comparable to the $300 to $600 checks sent to taxpayers in 2001, as well as bigger tax breaks for businesses that invest in new equipment.

According to the campaign, the plan includes: -Establishing a $30 billion housing crisis fund to help states and localities deal with the fallout of foreclosures.

-Setting a 90-day moratorium on subprime mortgages of at least five years, or until housing lenders have converted mortgages into loans families can afford.

-Providing $25 billion in emergency energy assistance for families facing rising heating bills. While 37 million families are eligible for energy assistance, only 5.6 million, or 16 percent, are slated to receive any aid this winter, the campaign said.

-Providing $10 billion to extend unemployment insurance for those struggling to find work while supporting families.

-Providing $5 billion in energy efficiency by doing such things as giving tax credits to encourage purchases of low emission vehicles and efficient appliances windows and other clean technologies.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan said Clinton's plan is all wrong and that "Clinton's record of raising taxes to pay for bloated government programs tells us far more than her claims on the campaign trail."