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Obama Expands Stimulus Goals
Summers said Obama's budget team is "scrubbing" various proposals for "basic soundness." The team also is developing ideas to make expenditures transparent to the public, perhaps through regular progress reports or even Internet sites where "people could monitor the fraction of each project that had been spent out," he said.
Obama also plans to mandate that states use the money within a time frame or be forced to return it. And his team is looking into public-private partnerships as a way to make the money stretch even further.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, have agreed to ban earmarks, which target funds for lawmakers' pet projects.
A rough outline of the package has taken shape in meetings on Capitol Hill in past days. According to congressional sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan is not yet final, the money is expected to be split into three pots, with at least $100 billion going to the states, primarily to cover the rising cost of health care for the poor.
Roughly $350 billion would be invested to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize schools and help hospitals and doctors switch to computerized patient records. That category also would include projects aimed at improving energy efficiency, such as weatherizing buildings, as well as aid to the poor through expanded unemployment and food-stamp benefits.
Obama's team has also laid out a substantial tax-cutting agenda that will include a $1,000 tax credit for working families, Obama advisers said, a provision that congressional sources said is estimated to cost about $140 billion over two years. Other tax provisions could include tax breaks for businesses, an expansion of the earned-income tax credit for the poor and new credits for tuition and alternative energy, congressional aides said.
That framework will be fleshed out more fully in coming days, as Obama's team continues to communicate with Democratic leaders, his advisers said. When Democrats have reached an agreement, Obama's team will expand its outreach to Republicans, an adviser said, in hopes of convincing them not only that the nation's deteriorating economy requires immediate action, but that a massive infusion of government cash is the appropriate response.