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KAI RYSSDAL: Alright, enough about the TARP. It's a mere $700 billion, after all. Let's start talking real money here. House Democrats unveiled their economic stimulus package today -- $825 billion as it stands now. But it's a safe bet to say it's going to grow. After it was released, the guy who's going to have to make the plan work, President-elect Barack Obama, called it a significant downpayment.

Marketplace's Steve Henn has the details.


STEVE HENN: What does $825 billion buy these days? For starters, tax breaks for first-time homebuyers and parents and anyone making less than $75,000 a year. Then there are tax write-offs for businesses with big losses. And more than a half a trillion in new spending on health care, cops and new technologies.

CHARLES RANGEL: We gotta create jobs, not just for now, not temporary jobs, but for the future -- and bridges and tunnels and rebuilding our schools.

That's Charlie Rangel, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means committee. He's promising this package will create 3 to 4 million jobs in the next two years. That's a lot of jobs, but it's a lot of money out the door too.

RANGEL: It comes to $217,000 per job created. Now, keep in mind that the average worker only earns $40,000 a year.

Brian Riedl's at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Brian Riedl: This is one of the most expensive pieces of legislation in American history and it's being rushed through with very little Congressional debate or analysis.

Just a year ago, $825 billion would have sounded like a fortune. These days not so much. But for the record it's 50 percent more than what the U.S. has spent on the Iraq war to-date, and 10 times the cost of Hurricane Katrina. And this enormous price tag could go up. If senators protect the upper-middle class from tax hikes under the alternative minimum tax, the cost is likely to shoot over $900 billion.

In Washington I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.