NEW YORK - President-elect Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are considering a major expansion of government-assisted health care insurance and unemployment benefits as part of a two-year economic recovery program, The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions.
Proposals included extending unemployment compensation to part-time workers, subsidizing employers who must continue health insurance benefits temporarily for laid-off and retired employees and allowing workers who lose jobs that did not include insurance to apply for Medicaid, the Times said.
The proposals would be included with other economic measures like ramping up spending on infrastructure and other public works projects meant to stimulate job growth, the Times said.
Democratic aides said the House of Representatives is not expected to vote until next week at the earliest on any stimulus plan, with final action now unlikely before February, the newspaper reported.
Citing Obama advisers, the newspaper said the package, which could face resistance from Republicans and conservative Democrats, would cost at least $775 billion.
This has really forced people to think outside the box, the Times quoted a House Appropriations Committee aide as saying, because this is more money than anybody expected to be spending.
Obama is also likely to propose a tax credit of $500 for eligible individuals and $1,000 for couples, the newspaper said. Those earning too little to pay federal income tax would receive a check meant to offset Social Security retirement and Medicare payroll taxes.