Factbox: Obama plan is latest rescue effort for economy

Wed Sep 8, 2010 1:44pm EDT

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday will propose tax breaks for businesses and spending on public works programs in a package the White House says will eventually cost $180 billion. It is the latest in a series of plans to rescue the U.S. economy.

Following are steps to boost the economy taken by Obama, who inherited the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression when he took office in January 2009.

* ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE - Obama and his Democrats passed a $787 billion package in February 2009 that authorized spending for roads, bridges, railways and social safety-net programs along with tax breaks.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office now estimates the total cost at $814 billion.

The White House says the package brought about a recovery in an economy that was in free fall. But Republicans point to the 9.6 percent unemployment rate as evidence it did not work.

A recent CBO report said it put millions of people back to work and boosted output by hundreds of billions of dollars.

* FINANCIAL RESCUE - Obama continued the financial bailout, begun in President George W. Bush's administration, that was known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Amid calls by some liberal economists to nationalize the U.S. banks, Obama's Treasury Department decided instead to conduct "stress tests" of banks' health in May 2009.

The administration says its actions halted a panic in markets but TARP remains unpopular with many Americans.

* AUTO BAILOUT - The Obama administration has touted its 2009 decision to rescue U.S. automakers Chrysler and GM as a success but Republicans have criticized it an example of heavy-handed government intervention in the economy.

* CASH FOR CLUNKERS - Obama's "cash for clunkers" program offered rebates to Americans to purchase more fuel-efficient cars. While the White House says it lifted sales and took polluting vehicles off the road, critics say the sales borrowed activity from future quarters.

* HOUSING - The administration has enacted an array of programs to stem the post-bubble crisis in the housing market, including efforts to prevent foreclosures and tax breaks to encourage buying. The market remains in turmoil and a report last month showed a 27.2 percent plunge in sales of existing homes, the worst in 15 years.

Some experts say more steps are needed to cushion the market's fall, while others say such measures may prolong the pain and it may be better to let the housing market find a bottom on its own.

* JOBS/AID TO STATES - The Democratic-led Congress this year has passed a series of measures, backed by the White House, to extend aid to the unemployed and assist financially struggling states and cities.

Republicans say the slowing economy is a sign the administration's policies are not working but the White House attributes the recent slowdown to head winds from the European crisis that hit the global economy last spring.

(Writing by Caren Bohan in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)