US President George W. Bush on Wednesday signed a two-year, 168-billion-dollar stimulus package, praising it as "a booster shot" for the battered US economy.
"I know a lot of Americans are concerned about our economic future. Our overall economy has grown for six straight years -- but that growth has clearly slowed," Bush said at a White House signing ceremony.
Bush's signature cleared the way for tax rebate checks to be sent out in the coming months. The measure also includes business tax breaks aimed at stimulating investment.
Economists are divided on the overall impact of the measure. Most say it can help boost critical consumer and business spending, but not until later this year. Some call it an election-year gimmick.
Backers of the plan say tax rebate checks of up to 600 dollars for individual taxpayers and 1,200 for couples, plus extra for dependent children, could charge up consumers pressured by sinking home prices and tight credit.
Bush hailed the cooperation between the White House and its Democratic critics in the US Congress, declaring: "We have come together on a single mission, and that is to put the people's interest first."
The president said the bill proved "we could come together to provide a booster shot for our economy -- a package that is robust, temporary, and puts money back into the hands of American workers and businesses."
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed that "the bipartisan plan the president signed today will help millions of Americans who are struggling in an uncertain economy.
"But we have much more to do in the long term because many more Americans still need our help. We will continue fighting for those who have lost their jobs in the Bush economy and small businesses suffering in a looming recession," he said in a statement.
"We will fight for families struggling with rising energy prices and a national housing crisis. And we will fight to reverse President Bush's disastrous budget policies that have hurt the middle class," said Reid.
Bush warned that while "helping our economy requires us to take action, it is equally important that we not overreact."
"In a dynamic market economy, there will always be times when we experience uncertainties and fluctuations. But so long as we pursue pro-growth policies that put our faith in the American people, our economy will prosper and it will continue to be the marvel of the world," he said.