WASHINGTON — President Bush signed a $152 billion economic stimulus package yesterday that includes tax rebates for consumers and incentives for businesses to invest. “This stimulus package will benefit food retailers, especially smaller ones, who are expanding job-rich prepared food departments, health and wellness programs and other consumer services to compete more effectively,” said Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer, Food Marketing Institute, in a prepared statement. In addition to the consumer tax rebates — up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for married couples — the package also doubles the deduction businesses can take for new assets under Section 179, to $250,000, and provides a 50% increase in first-year depreciation for investments in property, including computer software, FMI said. In a prepared statement, Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark, said it “applauds the President and Congress for recognizing the struggles of everyday Americans.” Consumers plan to spend 40.6% of the tax rebate checks, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGresearch. Their spending will provide an immediate $42.9 billion boost to the economy, according to the survey. About $30 billion going to consumers will be used to pay down debt, $4.6 billion will go toward medical bills, $19.8 billion will be saved and $4.4 billion will be invested.
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