NEWS

Economic stimulus: Would you buy stuff or pay bills with the rebate?

Dan McDonald

Capitol Hill lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agreed in principle to an economic stimulus package Thursday that would give millions of Americans tax rebates ranging from $300 to $1,200.

But some would-be rebate recipients, including Marlborough resident Sue Burke, were not impressed by the plan.

``It's putting a Band-Aid on a ruptured aorta,'' she said in the parking lot of a Framingham shopping plaza. ``I don't think it's going to make any difference. It's a quick fix.''

Individual taxpayers making less than $75,000 and married couples who bring in less than $150,000 annually will receive rebates, according to a statement of U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Individuals can receive up to $600, while couples could receive $1,200.

Parents who qualify could receive an additional $300 per child, with no cap on the number of children, according to Boehner's statement.

On his Web site, Boehner calls the package ``a win for the American people'' and states it will put money back in the pockets of middle class families, which will directly and effectively stimulate the economy.

Depending on someone's financial situation, said Jean Fisher of Newton, taxpayers may use the federal tax rebates to pay bills, rather than make new purchases.

``And what percentage of people don't have bills hanging over their head?'' she asked.

Fisher hoped the American people would stop assuming an increase in product consumption would automatically stimulate the economy.

Burke concurred.

``There's absolutely no connection,'' she said.

Pat Scurlock of Natick said if she received a rebate, she would use it to pay bills.

``We're headed for a recession,'' she said.

Dave Surette of Natick had mixed feelings about the package.

``All I know is my stock keeps going down,'' he said with a laugh. ``Part of me says `Let the free market be the free market.' But don't get me wrong, I think it's a positive.''

For people living paycheck to paycheck, said Jennifer Jackson of Wellesley, any extra financial boost, no matter how small, would help.

``Some people might invest it; for people who have a lot on their plate it's a nice little added bonus,'' said Jackson.

While stating most taxpayers will likely use the rebate to pay existing bills and reduce debt, Aurora Cunningham of Ashland, seated outside of an Old Navy with a shopping bag, admitted, ``You always have something to buy.''

Dan McDonald can be reached at 508-490-7475 or at dmcdonal@cnc.com.

MetroWest Daily News