Unemployment benefits, 'doc fix' scaled back in Senate bill

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Seeking to appease deficit hawks, Senate Democrats scaled back unemployment benefits and Medicare physician reimbursement measures on Wednesday.

The revised jobs bill eliminates a $25 weekly supplement for the jobless that had been part of the last year's stimulus act. Those currently receiving the supplement in their unemployment benefits check will continue to do so until they exhaust their extended benefits, or until the week of Dec. 7, whichever comes first. That cut will reduce the bill's cost by $5.8 billion over the next decade.

The new version of the bill would also freeze a 21% cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates only through November, instead of through 2011. This will reduce the bill's size by $16.4 billion over 10 years.

The legislation, which has been stuck in the Senate for more than a week, originally came in at about $140 billion and would have added about $78.7 billion to the deficit. The revised bill would raise the deficit by $55.1 billion.

Lawmakers are hoping to vote on the bill as early as Thursday. But if Democratic leaders can't rustle up enough support, the vote could be pushed back to next week.

The Senate's actions mirror what happened in the House, which twice had to shrink its version of the jobs and tax extenders bill to secure enough votes among members wary of raising the federal deficit even further. Representatives ultimately passed a measure in late May that would increase the deficit by $54.3 billion.

The grab-bag legislation pushes back the deadline to file for federal unemployment benefits until the end of November, renews expired tax provisions, lengthens a small business lending program and adds to infrastructure investments.

It also increases the tax on money paid to managers of hedge funds and investment partnerships to ordinary income levels instead of the much-lower capital gains rate. Under the revised bill introduced Wednesday, investment fund managers would have to treat 75% of this money as ordinary income, beginning in 2011.

The revised bill further hiked a tax on oil that finances the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to 49 cents, up from the 34 cents in the House version. The current tax is 8 cents. This measures is now projected to raise $18.3 billion over 10 years.

The revised Senate bill retained $24 billion in Medicaid funding to states, a provision the House had to jettison. President Obama and governors pressed lawmakers to keep the money, which many state officials have already included in their fiscal 2011 budgets, which begin July 1.

Senate lawmakers also voted Wednesday to include a measure in the bill that would push back the deadline to close on home purchases and still qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $8,000. Homebuyers would have until September 30, instead of June 30, to complete the transaction. The provision will cost $140 million over 10 years. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,979.13 59.54 0.35%
Nasdaq 4,526.48 -1.03 -0.02%
S&P 500 1,986.51 4.91 0.25%
Treasuries 2.43 0.02 0.87%
Data as of 11:07pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.52 0.07 0.45%
Apple Inc 100.57 0.04 0.04%
General Electric Co 26.36 0.31 1.19%
Intel Corp 34.50 0.16 0.47%
Staples Inc 11.32 -0.30 -2.58%
Data as of 4:01pm ET

Sections

This month, Delaware became the first state to pass a law giving heirs the right to access the online accounts and assets of someone who has passed away. More

Median income is up 3.8% since 2011, though it's still down since the economic recovery began in 2009. More

Small business owners say the economy is still their biggest challenge, which keeps them from expanding and hiring, according to a CNNMoney-Manta survey. More

This month, Delaware became the first state to pass a law giving heirs the right to access the online accounts and assets of someone who has passed away. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.