Expansions in government-assisted health care insurance and unemployment insurance may be part of a new two-year economic recovery package proposed by President-Elect Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats, The New York Times reports. This aid is specifically designed to help the country’s expanding jobless population as the economic continues its massive slide.
Though it is not yet clear what an initial economic stimulus plan would include from Congress, which is now substantially more Democratic following the 2008 elections, though speculation abounds. Such efforts will likely be in line with Obama’s priorities under his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which he announced during his most recent weekly YouTube address. Some policy changes might subsidize employers that extend health insurance benefits to laid-off workers, which is mandated under COBRA. Additionally, workers that lose jobs without health insurance benefits in the first place may be eligible for Medicaid coverage.
The aid for the “Main Street” economy will likely total at least $775 billion and changes may take effect as early as February. Obama and Congressional Democrats are trying to keep the cost of the stimulus limited to avoid it being labeled at $1 trillion plan, which would make the action more politically charged, potentially angering the large swath of American voters that are against excessive government spending. Some Republicans area already balking at the price tag, claiming it is already worth more than a whole year of federal discretionary spending.
“This has really forced people to think outside the box,” one aide on the House Appropriations Committee said, “because this is more money than anybody expected to be spending.”
Obama is intent on acting swiftly and boldly, though.
“Economists from across the political spectrum agree that if we don’t act swiftly and boldly,” Mr. Obama said, “we could see a much deeper economic downturn that could lead to double digit unemployment and the American dream slipping further and further out of reach.”
Other changes could include more federal funding for education, especially for disabled students, and Obama’s promised “Making Work Pay” tax credit for working individuals ($500) and couples ($1,000).