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Negotiations intensify on final stimulus plan

Negotiators hoped to seal agreement on President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package Wednesday after making good progress in the first rounds of closed-door talks.

Obama’s negotiating team insisted on restoring some lost funding for school construction projects as talks began Tuesday in hopes of striking a quick agreement, but by late in the day it appeared resigned to losing up to $40 billion in aid to state governments.

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate sailed to approval of its $838 billion economic stimulus bill, but with only three moderate Republicans signing on and then demanding the bill’s cost go down when the final version emerges from negotiations.

Negotiators were working with a target of about $800 billion for the final bill, lawmakers said.

“That’s in the ballpark,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said of the $800 billion figure late Tuesday.

Baucus had said earlier that $35.5 billion to provide a $15,000 homebuyer tax credit, approved in the Senate last week, would be cut back. There was also pressure to reduce a Senate-passed tax break for new car buyers, according to Democratic officials.

complete article @ Mercury News

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