Law & Order


Democratic leaders are discussing passage of a second economic stimulus package before Congress adjourns in late September, although legislative specifics remain unclear. The talking points include a need to create jobs and spur economic activity by improving the nation's infrastructure—roads, bridges, harbors—and by targeting relief to lower-income Americans.

Congressional Republicans want to tie a second stimulus package to more off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas as a way to dampen rising energy prices, since many of the first-round stimulus checks were offset by increased energy prices. President Bush has cautioned that Congress should wait for the full effects of the February stimulus package to work its way through the economy.

The first economic stimulus included several business tax breaks, such as a temporary increase in the first-year direct-expensing allowance and a bonus depreciation deduction of 50% for 2008. The direct-expensing allowance increased to $250,000 from the current level of $128,000.

The stimulus also provided an increase in the phase-out cap based on total equipment purchases in a year, rising to $800,000 from the current $510,000. It is not known if a second measure would go beyond the relief already provided through the first stimulus.

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