(Reuters) - President Barack Obama is pressing a $787 billion economic recovery package to restore growth and end a year-long U.S. recession despite Republican reservations about the balance of new spending and tax cuts.
Congress is expected to vote Friday on the package.
Here are a few markers to compare the scale of the rescue proposal against the size of the U.S. economy, current federal budget and past stimulus plans:
It would make 787,000 people, or roughly the population of Indianapolis, millionaires. Or 2 million people could each buy a home that cost about $393,000. It is also about $116 for every person on the planet.
A $787 billion stimulus plan would represent about 5.5 percent of the $14.3 trillion U.S. economy, which was the size of U.S. gross domestic product last year, measured in current, not inflation-adjusted, dollars.
It is about 1.7 times the size of the largest U.S. budget deficit in history — $455 billion — recorded in fiscal 2008.
It also represents about 27 percent of the $2.979 trillion in total outlays by the federal government in fiscal 2008, or about 32 percent of total federal receipts.
If it were given directly to Americans, rather than through a mixture of tax cuts and government spending aimed at upgrading infrastructure, it would be about $2,600 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
Obama’s $787 billion plan is roughly 1.3 times the cost of the Iraq war so far, based on a bill that now stands at $595 billion, according to the National Priorities Project, a private non-profit group.
Obama’s package is also slightly larger in relative terms than the 1947 Marshall Plan to rebuild post-war Germany, which back then cost about $13 billion over four years. The total amount disbursed under the Marshall Plan was equivalent to roughly 5.4 percent of U.S. gross national product in 1947, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson wrote in The New Yorker magazine last year.
The Obama stimulus package compares in size as a percentage of GDP to the First New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt but is significantly smaller as a reflection of the government budget at the time.
Roosevelt’s First New Deal in 1933 created the Public Works Administration, at a cost of $3.3 billion. Jason Scott Smith, a professor of history at the University of New Mexico, estimates this was equivalent to 5.9 percent of U.S. GDP at the time.
But compared to the size of the federal budget in that year, it was 1.65 times the amount of federal revenues. That ratio is more than five times greater than the same measure for Obama’s plan.
Roosevelt followed up with a Second New Deal in 1935 based on the Works Progress Administration, which built airports, bridges and public buildings across the nation. Smith said the initial $4.88 billion appropriation for this program equaled about 6.7 percent of GDP at the time.
Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by John O'Callaghan