Obama: CAT To Rehire If Bill Passes

President Barack Obama says Caterpillar’s chief executive, Jim Owens, has told him the company will rehire some laid-off workers if the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan passes. The heavy equipment maker announced more than 22,000 job cuts last month as it scales back production amid the economic slowdown. During a visit to a transportation construction site just outside Washington in Springfield, VA today, Obama urged Congress to pass the bill saying Caterpillar’s CEO has told him that if the stimulus bill passes he would be able to rehire some of those employees. Obama is to speak with some of those workers on Thursday when he visits a Caterpillar manufacturing plant in Peoria, IL. Late last week, Owens was appointed to the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Deal Struck On Economic Stimulus Package…Finally
Democratic leadership sources say they have worked out a way around the disagreement between the Senate and House over education funding in the economic stimulus bill.

The deal comes after a drawn-out debate on Capitol Hill that culminated in a last-minute holdup related to the school construction issue.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that a deal had been struck earlier Wednesday afternoon. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not on hand when Reid said that the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill had been resolved.

Senators had cut a plan to provide direct funding for school construction — a priority for some Democrats — and instead set aside money for governors to use on school modernization and rehabilitation. House Democrats did not believe that money would ultimately be targeted enough to school districts in need.

In the first version announced by Reid, $10 billion had been added to the $44 billion previously allocated toward “state stabilization” to help school infrastructure. House members would rather this $10 billion go through Title I, which would allocate the money based on need, rather than have the money given to governors to parcel out.

The compromise bill has a price of $789 billion, less than both the House and Senate versions. Reid said this middle ground creates more jobs than the original Senate bill, and spends less than the original House bill.

Here are some details expected to be in the final bill:

  • The homeowner tax credit has been kept but significantly reduced. The Senate version proposed a $15,000 credit, double that of the House bill.
  • A tax credit,also reduced from the Senate version, for people who buy a car in 2009.
  • Funding to patch the Alternative Minimum Tax is included. The tax was intended to target the wealthy but now hits many middle-class families.
  • $90 billion of increased Medicaid match to states.
  • $150 billion for infrastructure, including $49.6 for transportation infrastructure.

It was confirmed that tax breaks for workers that had been set at $1,000 per family or $500 per individual would be scaled back to $800 per family and $400 per individual.

Multiple Democratic sources said 35 percent of the bill deals with tax cuts, 65 percent with spending.

Greg Sitek

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