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Archive for Friday, May 21, 2010

Bill aims to expand benefits for unemployed

May 21, 2010

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— People who are out of work for long stretches would get expanded unemployment benefits through the end of the year under a bill Democratic lawmakers plan to pass next week.

The bill would also extend, for a year, about 50 popular tax cuts that expired in January. The bill would be paid for, in part, by tax increases on investment managers and some U.S.-based multinational companies.

In response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the bill would increase taxes on oil companies by $10.9 billion over the next decade to finance the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

House leaders said they plan to vote on the bill early next week, leaving just a few days for the Senate to act before Congress goes on a weeklong vacation for Memorial Day. House leaders had planned to vote this week, but they were still waiting for some cost estimates, and a few issues were unresolved.

Delays in extending the tax breaks have left thousands of businesses unable to plan for their tax liabilities. Delays in passing a long-term extension of emergency unemployment benefits have forced thousands of laid-off workers to live month to month with no certainty of income.

Unemployment benefits for many will start to run out June 2, unless Congress acts. The bill would extend unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in many states, at a cost of $47 billion.

Laid-off workers would continue to get subsidies to buy health insurance through the COBRA program through the end of the year, at a cost of $7.8 billion. States would get $24 billion to states to help cover Medicaid costs.

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