NRF applauds Senate’s approval of economic stimulus bill

WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation welcomed the Senate approval of economic stimulus legislation that aims to boost consumer spending by providing taxpayers with rebate checks.

The Senate Friday voted 81-16 to approve H.R. 5140, the Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act of 2008, after amending a bill passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate version adds Social Security recipients and disabled veterans to the list of those eligible to receive rebate checks while barring checks for illegal immigrants.

“Expanding the rebate checks to include retirees and disabled veterans is a win-win strategy,” NRF senior vice president for government relations Steve Pfister said. “Retirees and veterans not only deserve a check, but are also among those most likely to spend the rebates so that this money gets put to work in the economy right away. The most important thing is that Congress is moving quickly, because stimulus legislation needs to be timely in order to be effective. These are very reasonable changes in the House bill, and we urge the House to agree to them and get the bill onto President Bush’s desk as soon as possible.”

The NRF is fighting for passage of economic stimulus legislation, in the face of predictions of an upcoming recession. It reported this week that the NRF board of directors—last month—passed a resolution urging the administration and Congress to act following a disappointing holiday season that saw only 3 percent sales growth, the smallest in five years. In another sign of slowing economy, the NRF also issued its 2008 forecast calling for 3.5 percent growth, the lowest increase since 2002.

“We agree with economists who say that boosting consumer spending is the quickest way to get the economy back on track,” Pfister said. “Consumer spending represents 70 percent of our nation’s economy. Money that consumers spend in retail stores supports every job behind every product on the shelf and has a ripple effect throughout the economy.”

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