Stimulus Widens Unemployment Coverage
Part-timers would be eligible; plan expands health-care options
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2009 11:02 AM CST
President-elect Barack Obama speaks to reporters after a meeting with his top economic advisers at his transition office in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The Obama stimulus plan will include a $7 billion provision intended to force states to extend unemployment insurance to part-time workers, reports the Wall Street Journal. A separate plan subsidizes COBRA payments and allows uninsured workers who get laid off to buy into Medicaid, and all three measures are riling critics. "Those aren't stimulus," said the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee. "Those are ideological accomplishments in the guise of economic stimulus."

With states' budgets even leaner than the federal government's, critics on both sides of the aisle are especially worried about the unemployment-insurance measure, which would be permanent; the health-care provisions expire after 2 years. Said the Senate Budget Committee chair, Democrat Kent Conrad: "Any additional tax cuts, where there will be pressure to make them permanent, or spending proposals that have a permanent nature to them, give me pause."