Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Peek at the Package

CNN helps layout some of the adjustments to the Stimulus bill negotiated with the help of some on the Right:
Tax breaks

Make Work Pay Credit: The Senate bill would narrow President Obama's signature tax provision. The full credit ($500 per worker or $1,000 per couple) would be paid to people making $70,000 or less ($140,000 per dual-earner couple). Under the House bill, those making $75,000 or less ($150,000 or less for couples) would qualify.

Break for higher income families: The Senate version includes a one-year provision to protect middle- and upper-middle-income families from having to pay the Alternative Minimum tax. The AMT was intended primarily for high-income taxpayers but has in recent years threatened to engulf those lower down the income scale. The House bill has no such provision.

Credit for car buyers: The Senate voted for an amendment that would let those who buy a car in 2009 deduct the interest they pay on their car loan as well as the sales tax charged in the purchase. The House bill doesn't include this provision.

Home-buyer credit: The Senate bill would double the size of an existing temporary home-buyer credit to $15,000. It would also allow all homebuyers to claim it and remove the requirement under current law that the credit be paid back. The House bill also removes the repayment requirement but leaves the credit maximum at $7,500 and would offer it only to first-time buyers.

Child-care credit: Both the Senate and House would expand the eligibility provisions of the child-care tax credit, so that lower income families could claim more of it. But the Senate expansion is smaller.
Direct spending

Education funding: The compromise Senate bill allocates $39 billion to a fiscal stabilization fund that states would use in great part to help fund public colleges and universities. That is well below the $79 billion allocated by the House.

The Senate version also provides less funding for Head Start and teacher quality programs, as well as education efforts for the disadvantaged. It would also eliminate funding in the House bill for K-12 construction and higher education facilities.

Health wellness and flu prevention: The Senate bill excludes money allocated by the House for a prevention and wellness program as well as for pandemic flu research.

Green government vehicles: The Senate version offers $300 million to purchase fuel-efficient government vehicles. That's half the amount allocated by the House bill.
Direct lifeline benefits

Subsidy for health insurance for those laid off: Both the Senate and House bills include provisions to help jobless workers pay for health insurance if they choose to stay on their ex-employer's plan. The Senate, however, offers less of a subsidy - 50% for 12 months - than the House, which calls for a 65% subsidy over 12 months.

Tax break on unemployment benefits: The Senate bill, unlike the House version, would make the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits tax free. Both the Senate and House bills extend the time that jobless workers can collect benefits.

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