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Democrats Say House Bill Cuts Premiums for Many

As the House moved toward climactic votes on legislation to remake the health care system, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday that middle-income families might be required to pay 15 percent to 18 percent of their income on insurance premiums and co-payments under the proposal.

Democrats cited the figures as evidence that the legislation would reduce premiums for many low- and middle-income families who currently lack affordable coverage.

Democratic leaders were drawing up ground rules for House floor debate on their bill, expected to begin late this week. The bill would cover 36 million people at a cost of $1.05 trillion over 10 years, according to the CBO.

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader, said the Republican alternative would allow people to buy health insurance across state lines, encourage small businesses to band together to buy insurance at lower prices, and rein in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Kerik, Who Led NYC Police During 9/11, Pleads Guilty to Felonies

Bernard Kerik, a former detective who rose to lead the New York Police Department through the 9/11 attack before his career crumbled in scandal, pleaded guilty to tax fraud and lying to White House officials in U.S. District Court here Thursday morning.

Wearing a blue suit and a red tie, Kerik sat at the defense table in the packed courtroom with a subdued expression and in a deep, gravelly voice said, “Guilty, Your Honor,” as the judge read the charges against him.

Kerik’s lawyer, Michael F. Bachner, rubbed Kerik’s back during the 90-minute proceeding.

The prosecution and the defense recommended that the judge, Stephen C. Robinson, sentence Kerik, who faced up to 30 years in prison on the most serious charge, to 27 to 33 months. The judge, who is not bound by the recommendation, set sentencing for Feb. 18. Kerik was also ordered to pay restitution of $188,000.

U.S. Readies Jobless Aid
And Help on Homes

In separate actions to address Americans’ continuing economic hardship, the government moved Thursday to assist long-unemployed workers and struggling businesses, as well as home buyers and homeowners facing foreclosure.

Fannie Mae, the federally controlled mortgage company, announced a Deed for Lease program in which those in danger of eviction may be able to stay as tenants in their houses for at least a year.

Congress gave final approval to a stimulus measure that will extend unemployment benefits for the longtime jobless, aid that will bring total assistance for many to nearly two years. Other provisions of the bill will expand two popular tax breaks — one for home buyers, the other for businesses operating at a loss. President Barack Obama will sign the measure into law on Friday, aides said.

The measure provides up to 14 weeks of additional assistance to unemployed people who have exhausted their state and federal benefits, but up to 20 additional weeks to those in about 26 states with unemployment rates exceeding 8.5 percent.