Stimulus deal: Price tag set at $790 billion

The details still need to be worked out, but at least negotiators have agreed on how much the package will cost.

By Alex Koppelman

Published February 11, 2009 5:50PM (EST)

The hours of negotiations about the stimulus I wrote about in my last post appeared to have borne at least some fruit: Members of Congress and the administration have agreed on one major point, and set their goal for the total cost of the package at $790 billion.

This number appears to be an effort to split the difference between Democrats' goals and the position of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). The negotiators were originally shooting for a total of roughly $800 billion, while Specter said on MSNBC Tuesday night that he wanted a bill to cost about $780 billion.

There are still some details to be worked out, but the Associated Press says a few elements have been agreed to:

Democratic aides said that Obama's negotiating team had prevailed in restoring some lost funding for school construction projects during talks Tuesday, and had also increased aid to state governments above the $39 billion approved in a compromise with a handful of Senate GOP moderates.

Obama's "Making Work Pay" tax credit would be reduced from $500 per worker to $400, with couples eligible for an $800 credit, instead of $1,000.

A final deal may be close -- Politico's Glenn Thrush reports that the Democratic caucus has been notified to expect an emergency meeting to discuss the package sometime Wednesday.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Arlen Specter D-pa.