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    Stimulus Checks Offset Rising Pump Prices

    Advocacy group says incentive did little to help average American family.

    ATLANTA -- The well-intentioned stimulus federal checks that were designed to reinvigorate a staggering economy has done little more than help the average American afford rising gas prices, the consumer and environmental group Georgia PIRG claimed in its latest study.

    The report concluded that it took just 19 weeks for the average American family to spend the entire amount on gas. Georgia PIRG compares the standard amount a two-parent family with a child is getting from the tax rebate -- $1,500 -- to the amount the average American household is spending on gas.

    President George W. Bush signed the rebate into law on Feb. 13, as of this week, the two figures cancel each other out, PIRG reports. "Nothing illustrates how the lack of transportation options hurts consumers and our economy more than the fact that, since approval of the tax rebates in February, Americans on average have already spent the amount of their stimulus checks at the pump," the report stated.

    Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at the Robinson College of Business, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "It's a little bit of a twisted calculation." There's no way you can really tell what people spent the extra money on what they bought that they wouldn't have otherwise, until after it's all over and someone asks them in surveys."

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