Bush Offers Compromise in Stimulus Bill Debate
President Bush, hoping to "break a stubborn impasse" in negotiations over an economic stimulus bill, yesterday offered a compromise that would expand unemployment benefits and provide additional funds to help unemployed workers purchase health insurance, the Los Angeles Times reports (Hook, Los Angeles Times, 12/12). Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill proposed the compromise yesterday to a bipartisan group of Senate moderates, and Bush plans to offer the proposal to congressional leaders today at a White House meeting (Curl, Washington Times, 12/12). The compromise would extend unemployment benefits by 13 weeks and provide tax credits to help unemployed workers purchase health insurance "beyond the money Bush proposed for that purpose" in the past (Los Angeles Times, 12/12). The plan, which also includes a number of tax provisions, would cost about $93 billion in 2002 (Kuhnhenn, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/12). However, it is "unclear how the administration would move from a deal with the centrists to a broader agreement with Democratic leaders," the Washington Post reports (Kessler, Washington Post, 12/12). Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), for example, said yesterday that the White House must offer "more robust" unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies and drop some tax provisions in the plan before he could agree to a deal, adding, "we still have some way to go" (Murray/Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 12/12). But Bush's proposal may move Democrats into a "tighter corner" and "place additional pressure on Daschle to drop objections" and reach an agreement, CongressDaily/AM reports (Norton/Mitchell, CongressDaily/AM, 12/12).