Last updated: February 14, 2009 - 7:31pm
On its way to becoming law, two crucial things happened to President Obama's economic recovery plan: It got smaller and faster. Smaller in that it was cut to $787 billion from more than $800 billion in early versions in the House and Senate. And faster in that the Congressional Budget Office now projects that 74 percent of the money will be spent by Sept. 30, 2010, compared with 64 percent in the original House bill. Now the test is whether the mix of tax cuts and government spending, including public works projects, will create jobs and spur a recovery.
Here's some of the things in the bill:
1) Energy: Programs to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are big winners in the stimulus package, receiving more than $45 billion in new spending and tax breaks. The bill provides more than $10 billion to modernize the electricity grid and install "smart" meters in homes.
2) Science: After being traumatized when Congress suddenly slashed research budgets for science agencies last year, scientists were pleasantly surprised to find that they did not lose out again in the last round of negotiations on the stimulus plan. NIH gets $10 billion; NSF gets $ 3 billion; $1.6 billion for NASA; and the Energy Department's Office of Science gets $1.6 billion.
3) Health: The bill provides more than $19 billion to digitize medical records and link up doctors and hospitals with information technology. It includes new safeguards to protect the privacy of medical records, generally forbidding health care providers to sell individually identifiable health information without permission from the patient.
4)Broadband: The bill includes $7 billion to expand broadband access. $4.7 billion will be administered by the Commerce Department, and $2.5 billion will be administered by the Agriculture Department. $350 million will be spent for broadband mapping.
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