Details of U.S. stimulus spending released

Details of the spending contained in the $789 billion U.S. economic stimulus package negotiated between the House of Representatives and the Senate have been released.

The Senate could vote on the legislation as early as Thursday night and the House is expected to take it up on Friday.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $311 billion in appropriations. A further $196 billion is allocated for Medicaid and other social program spending, while $282 billion of the package is devoted to tax cuts.

Here is a summary of some of the major spending in the package:

* $120 billion for infrastructure and science including $27.5 billion for highway projects, $8.4 billion for public transportation and $9.3 billion for Amtrak and high-speed rail service.

It also includes $7.2 billion to improve access to high-speed Internet in unserved or underserved areas. An additional $4.2 billion is set aside for energy efficiency projects at U.S. defense facilities.

$6 billion is allocated for local clean water projects and another $6 billion is directed toward environmental cleanup of former weapon production and research sites.

* Health spending that includes $19 billion to encourage doctors and hospitals to upgrade computers and other technology to share patient information to improve care and save costs.

$1 billion is allocated for wellness and prevention programs and $1.1 billion for studies on the cost effectiveness of various treatments.

About $10 billion is available for biomedical research such as cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease and to improve facilities at the National Institutes of Health.

* Some $21 billion is available to help workers who lose their jobs maintain employer-provided health insurance through the COBRA program, a federal law that allows workers to temporarily maintain coverage at 102 percent of the cost. The bill provides a 65 percent subsidy for up to nine months.

* Some $53.6 billion for a stabilization fund to help cash-strapped states plug holes in their budgets. Most of the money is to be used to avoid education cutbacks and layoffs but a portion is available for school modernization.

$13 billion is available for a program to help disadvantaged students and $12.2 billion for the education of disabled children.

* Energy spending includes $4.5 billion to increase the energy efficiency of federal buildings and $11 billion to modernize the electric grid and upgrade technology so customers can instantly see the price of the power they are buying.

$3.4 billion for fossil energy research and development and $5 billion for weatherization assistance. About $6.3 billion is available for energy efficiency conservation grants and $6 billion is available for new loan guarantees for wind and solar projects.

* Aid for poor families includes $19.9 billion in additional food stamp assistance. The aid is increased by 13.6 percent.

[Source: Reuters, Washington, 13Feb09]

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