Posted by: The Global Ripple | January 24, 2009

Obama Promotes Energy, Health Coverage in Stimulus Plan

FYI reading for ya’ll. Pretty cool initiatives in my opinion. Peace out and happy weekend – Martin Fox with the Center for Global Leadership.

Obama Promotes Energy, Health Coverage in Stimulus Plan

By Kim Chipman and Julianna Goldman

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama, seeking to sell his stimulus package to the public, promoted plans to build up clean-energy industries, expand health-insurance coverage and boost security at U.S. ports as part of the broader effort to jump-start the sputtering U.S. economy.

“If we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse,” Obama said today in his first weekly radio and video address as president.

The administration released a report today outlining some of Obama’s priorities for the two-year recovery package. They include loan guarantees and other support to open up credit for renewable-energy investors, providing health insurance coverage to almost 8.5 million people who’ve lost jobs and enhancing security at 90 ports.

The president is trying to keep up momentum for his plan to boost the economy so that he can sign legislation by mid- February. House Democrats already have begun work on an $825 billion package of spending and tax cuts and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will bring the package to the House by Jan. 28. The Senate released portions of its proposal yesterday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican congressional leaders, while expressing disagreement with some of the details, said yesterday they expect to reach an agreement on the legislation by the deadline Obama has set.

Meeting Today

Obama is scheduled to meet with his economic advisers today at the White House. He and lawmakers are confronting signs of a weakening economy: Housing starts fell 16 percent last month, the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits climbed to a 26-year high, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has lost more than 7.9 percent since the start of the year.

Obama stressed that he’s seeking long-term economic growth with the spending portion of his plan and not just a quick boost to create jobs.

“It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century,” he said.

According to the report released along with Obama’s address, the administration has set a goal of doubling renewable energy generating capacity in three years and accelerating an overhaul of the nation’s power transmission system.

“We’ll begin to build a new electricity grid that lay down more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines to convey this new energy from coast to coast,” he said.

Electricity Grid

Obama says his plan would provide Americans who lose their jobs a new tax credit to keep their health insurance under a 1986 law known as Cobra, which allows many unemployed workers to pay to keep their health benefits. It also would increase Medicaid help to low-income people who don’t have access to insurance. Obama also says he would expand the child tax credit.

In a bid to make the country less vulnerable to attacks, Obama said he will boost security at 90 U.S. ports and create a better communications network for local law enforcement and public safety officials in the event of an emergency.

The report also promotes Obama’s push to modernize 10,000 schools and provide a higher education tax break to almost 4 million students.

Obama said transparency and the avoidance of needless government spending will be crucial to his plan’s success. He said taxpayers will be able to see how their money is being used on a new website, http://www.recovery.gov .

‘Veil of Secrecy’

“Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible,” he said.

Obama’s advisers have said at least 75 percent of the money will be spent in the first 18 months after passage.

The legislation crafted by House Democrats includes $358 billion for public works projects, $192 billion in other spending and $275 billion worth of tax cuts. The Senate has begun work on part of its version of the stimulus plan, which includes $275 billion in tax provisions, including cuts for businesses and producers of renewable energy that differ from the House package.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said yesterday that he remains concerned about the size of the spending portion of the stimulus plan.

“We believe spending nearly $1 trillion is more than we ought to be putting on the backs of our kids and their kids,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Chipman in Washington at kchipman@bloomberg.net ; Julianna Goldman in Washington at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net

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