Obama says fiscal restraint will be his economic guide


tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
I've heard this before, from both Democrats and Republicans. Only with Obama, his socialist inclinations lead me to believe otherwise.

Stimulus aside, Obama vows future budget restraint - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – To a public wary of government spending, President-elect Barack Obama is offering a salve with his massive economic stimulus package: the promise of long-term fiscal discipline.

Budget-conscious lawmakers are pressing Obama to embrace deficit-reduction goals even as he promotes a spending and tax-cutting plan — expected to cost about $775 billion — to jolt the economy out of its downward spiral.

"Part of the discussion that needs to happen right now is not what we do just right now, but what we look to in the future — about how we get back to a balanced budget and then start to deal with this horrible, horrible national debt that we have," said Rep. Dennis Moore of Kansas, a member of the congressional Blue Dogs, a coalition of conservative and moderate Democrats.

Two weeks away from assuming the presidency, Obama vowed Tuesday to "bring a long-overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington" and called the need for budget reform "an absolute necessity."

On Wednesday, he was expected to announce his selection of a chief performance officer, a White House official who will work with federal agencies to set performance standards and hold agency managers accountable for progress.

"The fact that he is making these comments publicly about fiscal responsibility gives me encouragement that we will see something," said Rep. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, one of the leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition.

With Democrats in control of both chambers in Congress, Obama's reassurances to budget hawks from both parties already appear to be making a stimulus package more palatable. Obama said this week he would like Congress to complete action on an economic recovery plan by the end of the month or the first week of February.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was expected to press fellow Democrats on Wednesday to pass the legislation by mid-February. She, too, has reassurances for cost-conscious lawmakers.

"Many will focus on the upfront cost of this legislation," she was to tell a House Democratic Policy and Steering Committee forum, according to an excerpt of her prepared remarks. "While we are not discussing small sums, focusing on the price tag alone ignores the cost of inaction and the real payoff in terms of job creation and increased revenues to our Treasury."

While promising to fight waste and to make tough budgetary decisions, however, Obama warned that the nation could face trillion-dollar deficits for years to come. Eight years ago, the federal budget ran a surplus; the deficit on Sept. 30 was about $455 billion. That was before the government began spending nearly half of a $700 billion bailout fund for the financial sector.

Obama said Americans will accept his proposed stimulus plan only if they believe the money is being used wisely to boost the troubled economy and to make smart long-term investments in public projects.

Lawmakers and budget watchdog groups want Obama to promptly spell out a process for addressing long-term deficits.

"Short-term stimulus does need to be combined with long-term discipline," said Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates fiscal restraint. "The deficit numbers are going to be astronomical for the next couple of years. People need to know that there is some end game to this."

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., agreed that trillion-dollar deficits are likely for a few years and must be tolerated as the government pumps money into the badly weakened economy. But the nation must confront long-term problems facing Social Security and Medicare, he said, which will be "very, very tough."

"It would send a very healthy message to the markets and the American people if President-elect Obama were to simultaneously announce an economic recovery package and the beginning of a bipartisan process to deal with our long-term imbalances," Conrad said.

Obama has not detailed solutions for vexing problems such as growing demands on Social Security and Medicare. His prescriptions to make government accountable could easily run aground, much like those of predecessors who vowed to tackle government waste, fraud and abuse.

But lawmakers are not short on ideas. Conrad and the Budget Committee's top Republican, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, have proposed a bipartisan fiscal task force of lawmakers and administration officials that would create a plan to reduce budget deficits and lower the national debt.

Blue Dog Democrats would like to see legislation that would force Congress to pay for spending proposals with equal spending cuts or with new revenue. House Democrats this week plan to consider legislation that would require all federal agencies to undergo new audits and would call for congressional hearings when agency inspectors general find evidence of waste or fraud.
 

HK4U

New member
Did he mean fiscal restraint or that he would like to see us in restraints?:help:
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
Did he mean fiscal restraint or that he would like to see us in restraints?:help:


It's not that he wants to see us in restraints. It's just that his idea of restraint will push us so close to socialism that we'll feel like we are.
 
G

gpbarth

Guest
So $775B is fiscal restraint? Gosh! What is runaway spending? No, wait! Don't tell me!

That's $775,000,000,000.00!!
 

wuzfuz

New member
Obama

I think it is really funny. I saw an article that says that AlQaeda is accusing Obama of being responsible for the air strikes in Gaza. Gee, I didn't know a president-elect could order foreign countries to attack. ROFLMAO.
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
Obama: recession could linger for years without a stimulus

Obama warns of dire consequences without stimulus - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday the recession could "linger for years" unless Congress pumps unprecedented sums from Washington into the economy.

"I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible," Obama said in a speech set to be delivered at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., outside Washington. Excerpts from his prepared text were released in advance by his transition team.

It was the fourth day in a row that Obama has addressed this front-burner issue and it was the highest-profile appearance yet on an issue that can define his early months in office.

His events have increasingly taken on the trappings and air of the presidency, with the speech — coming a full 12 days before he takes over at the White House — a particularly showy move. Presidents-elect typically stick to naming administration appointments and otherwise staying in the background during the transition period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, but Obama has clearly made the calculation that a nation anxious about its economic outlook and eager to bid farewell to the current president, George W. Bush, needs to hear from him differently and more frequently.

Indeed, the economic news is grim.

"A bad situation could become dramatically worse," Obama said, painting a dire picture — including double-digit unemployment and $1 trillion in lost economic activity — that recalled the days of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Consumers and companies are folding under the negative forces of a collapsed housing market, a global credit crunch and the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. The recession, which started in December 2007, already is the longest in a quarter-century.

A report due out the same day as Obama's speech is expected to show that the number of newly laid-off people signing up for state unemployment insurance last week rose to 540,000, up from 492,000 in the previous week. The number of people continuing to draw jobless benefits is projected to stay near 4.5 million, demonstrating the troubles the unemployed are having in finding new jobs.

For all of 2008, employers probably slashed payrolls by at least 2.4 million. That's based on economists' forecasts for a net loss of 500,000 additional jobs in December, as well as the job losses previously reported. Some, however, think the number of jobs cut last month will be higher, around 600,000 or 700,000. The Labor Department will release that report Friday.

A day after the release of a stunning new estimate — that the federal budget deficit will reach an unprecedented $1.2 trillion this year, nearly three times last year's record. Obama acknowledged some sympathy with those who "might be skeptical of this plan" because so much federal money has already been spent or committed in an attempt — largely unsuccessful so far — to get credit, the lifeblood of the American economy, flowing freely once again.

Such statements are coded to appeal to budget hawks in both parties, whom Obama wants to win over so that approval of a package draws wide, bipartisan support in the Democratic-led Congress.

To answer their concerns, he promised to allow funding only for what works. He also pledged a new level of transparency about where the money is going. A day earlier, he promised to tackle the out-of-control fiscal problem posed by Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs and named a special watchdog to clamp down on all federal programs.

Obama made broader arguments, too, saying that the private sector, typically the answer, cannot do what is needed now.

"At this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe," he said.

Obama's transition team and Democratic congressional leaders are working daily to hammer out the still-evolving package, expected to total nearly $800 billion. The initial hope had been to have a new stimulus package approved by Congress in time for Obama to sign it upon taking office on Jan. 20. That timeline has slipped considerably, into at least mid-February if not later.

The package is expected to include tax cuts for businesses and middle-class workers, money to help cash-starved states with Medicaid programs and other operating costs, and a huge share for infrastructure building, investments in energy efficiency and a rebuilding of the information technology system for health care. Much of the latter portions of the plan are aimed at what Obama likes to talk about as the need for "reinvestment" and not just "recovery."

Obama also promised action to address the economy's ills beyond the package, such as tackling the massive wave of home foreclosures many experts expect, preventing the failure of financial institutions, rewriting financial regulations and keeping accountable the "Wall Street wrongdoers" who engage in risky investing.
 

Glockster20

Clinging to God and guns
More government, bigger government, socialism at it's finest!

From the Desk of:
Steve Elliott, President, Grassfire.org Alliance

Please forward this message to your friends and ask them to
join you in this historic Patriotic Resistance. -- Steve

President-elect Obama landed in Washington, DC, yesterday and
immediately began pushing his $1 trillion "stimulus" plan.
Obama proudly boasted that "80 percent" of the new jobs he
wants to create will be in the public sector.

But that means Obama wants to add 600,000 to the already
bloated government payroll!

And pressure is already being put on Congress to fast-track Obama's plan.

+ + 11,000 Resisters needed today!

Grassfire's Patriotic Resistance just crossed 330,000 members. That
means we need to rally 11,000 new Patriotic Resisters every day to
reach our goal by Inauguration Day -- so we are ready to fight for
our liberties from Day One of Obama's administration.

Please forward this message to your friends and ask them to Join
the Resistance today:

GrassFire.org - Real Impact Online.
 
G

gpbarth

Guest
Good example of the old lie:

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you!"
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
Rifts show as Obama urges quick action on stimulus - Yahoo! News



WASHINGTON – Lawmakers are under orders to finish action on President-elect Barack Obama's nearly $800 billion economic recovery plan by mid-February. But already it is plain that a set of serious fissures need to be bridged if the bill is to be completed within five weeks.

Obama urged Congress on Thursday to "act boldly and act now" to fix an economy growing perilously weaker, even as top Democrats said they dislike key provisions, especially the design of his tax cuts.

Democrats such as Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad complained openly that many of the incoming administration's proposed tax cuts wouldn't work. Republicans warned against excessive new spending, with both parties signaling the incoming president they intend to place their own stamp on the economic recovery effort.

Conrad, D-N.D., and Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., also staked a firm position against using the economic recovery plan for permanent spending increases, opening a split with House Democrats hoping to use the plan to broaden eligibility for unemployment insurance and boost education spending.

"Doing things that would have a permanent effect when we face trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see is just unwise," Conrad said.

A call for a $3,000 tax break for job creation drew particular criticism in a closed-door meeting, and numerous lawmakers said Obama had not ticketed enough of his tax proposal for energy.

But there was little or no dispute about the need for action, and Obama's remarks coincided with a pair of government reports showing fresh weakness in an economy already in recession. An updated reading on unemployment was expected to bring even more bad news on Friday.

"If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years," with unemployment reaching double digits, Obama said in a speech at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. "A bad situation could become dramatically worse."

Obama's aides and congressional Democrats have been at work for weeks on legislation to create new jobs, help the unemployed, cut taxes and aid cash-strapped states. There also are subsidies to help the newly unemployed afford their health care, a big new effort to improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings, and tax credits for business investment in plants and equipment.

The details are closely held and subject to change — and the cost of various components seems to be bouncing around daily in the push and pull between the Obama transition team and congressional leaders.

Obama's chief political strategist, David Axelrod, and incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, heard plenty of ideas and criticisms during Capitol Hill meetings Thursday.

"There was what one would expect, which is constructive comments," Axelrod told reporters. "I'm not going to characterize it as push-back. I'm going to characterize it as people doing their jobs."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised lawmakers would cancel next month's planned Presidents' Day recess if necessary.

"We are not going home without an economic recovery package," she told reporters, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, at a different appearance, agreed that that allowed enough time to get the job done.

About $300 billion of Obama's package would be for tax cuts or refunds for individuals and businesses.

One tax provision would provide a $500 tax cut for most workers and $1,000 for couples, at a cost of about $140 billion to $150 billion over two years. The individual tax cuts may be awarded through withholding less from worker paychecks, effectively making checks about $10 to $20 larger each week.

Democrats emerging from a closed-door meeting of the Senate Finance Committee had little positive to say about the tax cut proposals. Conrad was critical of the proposed break for workers and their families.

"Twenty bucks a week. How much of a lift is that going to give?" he said.

Nor did he sound positive about a proposed tax break for businesses to create jobs — a $3,000 tax credit for companies that hire or retrain workers.

"If I'm a business person, it's unlikely if you give me a several thousand dollar credit that I'm going to hire people if I can't sell the products they're producing," Conrad said.

Republicans noted forecasts of a record $1.2 trillion deficit for the current year and said too much additional spending could be harmful. "We can't buy prosperity with more and more government spending," declared Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader.
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
Obama's analysis of his proposed stimulus plan

Obama provides internal analysis of economic plan - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Facing growing criticism of his economic recovery plan, President-elect Barack Obama made public Saturday a detailed analysis by his economic advisers that estimates the $775 billion plan of tax cuts and new spending would create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years.

But the president-elect's advisers concede in the 14-page report Obama posted on the Internet that their estimates are "subject to significant margins of error," both because of the assumptions that went into their economic models and because no one knows the final outlines of the package that will emerge from Congress.

"These numbers are a stark reminder that we simply cannot continue on our current path," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and YouTube broadcast address.

"If nothing is done, economists from across the spectrum tell us that this recession could linger for years and the unemployment rate could reach double digits — and they warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world," he said.

Obama, who previously has provided few details of the massive spending and tax cut plan, released the report one day after the unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent, the highest in 16 years. The nation lost 524,000 jobs in December, bringing the total job loss for last year to 2.6 million, the largest since World War II.

If Congress fails to enact a big economic stimulus plan, Obama's advisers estimated that another 3 million to 4 million jobs will disappear before the recession ends.

As lawmaker criticisms of parts of his plan grew during the week, Obama agreed Friday to modest changes in his proposed tax cuts. Democratic congressional officials said his aides came under pressure in closed-door talks to jettison or significantly alter a proposed tax credit for creating jobs, and to include relief for upper middle-class families hit by the alternative minimum tax.

The new report is likely to intensify debate over the economic recovery plan even more, as economists outside the Obama team begin delving into the analysis. The report, for example, estimates that the unemployment rate at the end of 2010 would be 1.8 percentage points lower if the plan is enacted.

Top Democrats on Capitol Hill say there is far more agreement than disagreement on the major parts of the recovery plan: aid to cash-strapped state governments, $500-$1,000 tax cuts for most workers and working couples, and a huge spending package blending old fashioned public works projects with aid to the poor and unemployed and a variety of other initiatives.

The new report provides detailed breakdowns of how many jobs each part of the plan would create, even going so far as to provide estimates that more than 40 percent of the new jobs would go to women and that 90 percent of them would be created in the private sector. It also provides estimates of how many new jobs would be created in each different sector of the economy.

"It's not too late to change course — but only if we take immediate and dramatic action," Obama said. "Our first job is to put people back to work and get our economy working again."
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
Obama: Plan will create 4.1 million jobs

We should all be so lucky! In addition to the more than 3 million private sector jobs this plan would supposedly create, it would swell the ranks of government jobs by more than 600,000. Typical socialist!

Obama advisers: Plan would create up to 4.1M jobs - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama countered critics with an analysis Saturday by his economic team showing that a program of tax cuts and spending like he's proposed would create up to 4.1 million jobs, far more than the 3 million he has insisted are needed to lift the country from recession.

Congressional Republicans reacted skeptically, just as Obama acknowledged that he would be forced to recant some of his campaign promises given the economic crisis facing the country. Even the president-elect's own economists acknowledged their two-year estimates could be wrong.

The 14-page analysis, which was posted online, says estimates are "subject to significant margins of error" — because of the assumptions that went into the economic models and because it is not known what might pass Congress.

"These numbers are a stark reminder that we simply cannot continue on our current path," Obama said in his weekly radio and YouTube broadcast address.

"If nothing is done, economists from across the spectrum tell us that this recession could linger for years and the unemployment rate could reach double digits — and they warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world," he said.

Obama has provided few details of his $775 billion plan so far. This fresh report does not include the specific construction of his tax cuts, the amounts dedicated to state aid or public works — key questions that Obama aides have closely held.

On Saturday, economic aides and advisers declined to lay out even rough estimates for the plan's components. They said they worked with broad instructions from Obama but didn't want to limit negotiations with congressional leaders by outlining their limits in public.

"I want to be realistic here. Not everything that we talked about during the campaign are we going to be able to do on the pace we had hoped," Obama told ABC's "This Week" for an interview set to air Sunday.

For a second time since his election, Obama increased the number of jobs his jobs program would create, taking the number to as many as 4.1 million jobs saved or created — a benchmark his critics charge cannot be measured. During the campaign, he promised only 1 million new jobs.

The analysis came out one day after news the unemployment rate had jumped to 7.2 percent, the highest in 16 years. The nation lost 524,000 jobs in December, bringing the total job loss for last year to 2.6 million, the largest since World War II.

GOP lawmakers have insisted on carefully targeting any aid and on a politically popular tax cut for the middle class, as well as loans to states.

"We want to make sure it's not just a trillion-dollar spending bill, but something that actually can reach the goal that he has suggested," said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate's top Republican.

Obama's plan has met with lukewarm support from lawmakers in general, despite economic news that has dominated the new administration even before it begins.

In hopes of having the new president gain immediate access to bailout money already approved by Congress when he takes office Jan. 20, his economic team and the Bush administration have discussed the possibility that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would ask lawmakers soon for access to the $350 billion remaining in the Wall Street rescue fund.

The transition team also has asked the head of the rescue program at the Treasury Department to remain in that position for a short time after the inauguration to help assure a smooth transition, according to an Obama official.

If Congress fails to enact a big economic recovery plan, Obama's advisers estimate that an additional 3 million to 4 million jobs will disappear before the recession ends. Obama's team also noted that with or without the plan, the jobless rate by 2014 would be the same.

The president-elect agreed on Friday to modest changes in his proposed tax cuts. Democratic congressional officials said his aides came under pressure in private talks to jettison or significantly alter a proposed tax credit for creating jobs, and to include relief for upper middle-class families hit by the alternative minimum tax.

The new report is likely to intensify debate as economists outside the Obama team begin delving into the analysis. The report, for example, estimates that the unemployment rate at the end of 2010 would be 1.8 percentage points lower if the plan is enacted.

Top Democrats on Capitol Hill say there is far more agreement than disagreement on the major parts of the recovery plan: aid to cash-strapped state governments, $500-$1,000 tax cuts for most workers and working couples, and a huge spending package blending old-fashioned public works projects with aid to the poor and unemployed and a variety of other initiatives.

But it needs restrictions, Republicans say, to ensure prudent spending.

University of Maryland economist Peter Morici said the analysis attempted an economic justification for a political decision. He said evidence suggests that working class families would spend the modest tax credits — $500 per individual or $1,000 per family — on low-cost, imported products that do little for the U.S. economy. He also said state and local governments don't need as much aid as Obama is proposing.

"They should stick to the infrastructure spending" in the plan and jettison much of the rest, Morici said in an interview, because that is the most likely proposal to provide a short-term economic boost and long-term benefits.
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
Obama wants changes in disbursement of remaining $350 billion of bailout money

Obama team promises changes in use of bailout - Yahoo! News



WASHINGTON – Seeking to reassure wary lawmakers, President-elect Barack Obama's top economic adviser told congressional leaders Monday that Obama intends to broaden the goals of the remaining $350 billion financial bailout and impose tougher restrictions and oversight on how the money is spent.

Larry Summers, Obama's choice for National Economic Council director, told House and Senate leaders in a letter from the transition team that the need to tap the second half of the $700 billion fund is "imminent and urgent."

The letter spells out how Obama intends to use the Troubled Asset Relief Program to help community banks, small businesses, consumers and homeowners as well as large financial institutions. He also specified that Obama intends to launch a "sweeping effort" to mitigate foreclosures.

Obama on Monday asked Bush to seek the remaining bailout money so that Obama can have it at his disposal promptly after taking office Jan. 20.

Summers' letter included tacit acknowledgment of bipartisan congressional dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Bush administration has administered the first half of the funds.

"The president-elect also shares the frustration of the American people that we have seen too little effect from this rescue plan on jobs, incomes, and the ability of responsible homeowners to stay in their homes," Summers wrote. "He believes the American people are right to be angry with the way this plan has been implemented."

The White House said that Bush agreed to notify Congress after Obama requested the money. Congress has 15 days to reject the request, but efforts were afoot to have the money available for Obama much sooner.

The request would give Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, not only the opportunity to get quick access to the money, but also to change the program's goals and conditions.

Obama's request comes as Democrats in the House of Representatives prepared to act on legislation that has some of the same aims laid out in summers letter.

Earlier Monday, Bush told reporters that he would not request the money form Congress unless Obama "specifically asked me to make it." Obama called Bush at 10:25 a.m., EST, after the news conference ended, Obama transition officials said.

Bush's assertion that the decision to tap the money rests with Obama was an acknowledgment of what has been an extraordinary ceding of power to the incoming administration. In fact, when it comes to the economy, Bush in recent weeks has let Obama be the driving force behind most recovery efforts.

A vote in Congress is likely soon, possibly this week, several senators predicted after a briefing from Summers Sunday on the Wall Street bailout, as well as on Obama's separate plan for roughly $800 billion in spending and tax breaks to spur the economy.

At his news conference, Bush said, "I readily concede I chucked aside some of my free market principles when I was told by chief economic advisers that the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression."

But he credited the program for improving the lending environment, saying that "lending is just beginning to pick up."

Congress approved the program in October, authorizing $700 billion to assist the financial industry.

The current administration has already committed the first $350 billion, using it to inject capital into banks and to bail out ailing major companies considered too big to fail without further damage to the economy. Money from the program has gone to insurance giant American International Group Inc. and automakers General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the administration's handling of the fund, in part because the financial institutions that have received the unconditional sums of money have done little to account for it.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson originally promised the money would be used to buy up toxic mortgage-related securities whose falling values have clogged credit markets and brought many financial institutions to the brink of failure.

A request to Congress would force a vote within days on whether to block the funding, but the deck is stacked in favor of Bush and Obama winning release of the remaining $350 billion. Congress can pass a resolution disapproving the request, but the White House could veto the resolution; then, just one-third of either chamber would be needed to uphold the veto and win release of the money.
 

tattedupboy

Thank God I'm alive!
How in the world can anyone call this "restraint?"

Obama hitting the road to sell his economic plan - Yahoo! News



WASHINGTON – Seeking an early victory on a top priority, President-elect Barack Obama is pitching workers in the ailing Midwest on his plan for some $825 billion in new spending and tax cuts to spur the troubled economy.

The president-elect on Friday was to tour a northern Ohio company that manufactures parts for wind turbines, a fitting backdrop to promote alternative energy dollars included in the mammoth stimulus package that could top $1 trillion by the time Congress sends it to the White House.

Obama's campaign-style event is the first of a series he's expected to hold to generate support for his plan to pull the country from recession. His trip comes a day after the Senate approved giving him access to the second half of last fall's $700 billion financial industry bailout and after House Democrats unveiled a stimulus plan largely shaped by the president-elect's team.

Citing an economy in crisis and worsening, Obama has spent the past two weeks securing lawmakers' backing for the eye-popping plan that has drawn skepticism from both Republicans and Democrats because of its price tag and tax provisions. He's now taking his pitch directly to the public — and trying to sell the sweeping package to lawmakers' constituents.

The stakes are enormous for Obama. Passage of the plan, and bipartisan passage in particular, would mark a significant achievement at the outset of his presidency as he inherits a recession in its second year from President George W. Bush. Defeat would be a blow, coming not just in his first weeks in office but also as joblessness increases, bank failures continue, investment portfolios shrink and home prices drop.

Either way, the success or failure of the plan could well set the tone for his first 100 days in office, if not his first year or longer.

After nearly two weeks in Washington, Obama scheduled a meeting with workers at the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co. in Bedford Heights, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, to explain how he believes such companies and their workers would benefit from his plan.

Founded in 1968, the company recently announced the creation of a wind power division to respond to what the company says is a surge of demand for their parts in the wind turbine industry. Obama argues his plan would create nearly 500,000 jobs by investing in alternative energy.

Ohio is among a large swath of the industrial Midwest that's been hit especially hard by the recession.

The most recent figures available show that Ohio's unemployment rate was higher than the national rate at 7.3 percent in November, with 435,000 out of work, up from 5.7 percent the year before. Foreclosure activity rose 26 percent in Ohio in 2008, putting it among states with the highest foreclosure rates. And demand for food stamps, Medicaid and unemployment benefits are on the rise.

Little more than two months ago, Obama won the state by four percentage points over Republican John McCain, part of his electoral landslide. Obama posted large numbers of votes in the state's heavily Democratic northeast corner that is home to many blue collar workers and liberals.

A Democratic-aligned group, Americans United, was airing a TV ad in the state urging people to call GOP Sen. George Voinovich to express their support for Obama's plan.

One of the largest bills ever to make its way through Congress, the legislation calls for federal spending of roughly $550 billion and tax cuts of $275 billion over the next two years to revive the sickly economy. It focuses heavily on energy, education, health care and jobs-producing highway construction.

Energy-related proposals include $32 billion to upgrade the nation's electrical distribution system, more than $20 billion in tax cuts to promote the development of alternatives to oil fuels, and billions more to make public housing, federal buildings and modest-income homes more energy efficient.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have promised Obama they would send him the legislation for his signature by mid-February.

The plan already is running into resistance.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio accused Democrats of thinking they can "borrow and spend their way back to prosperity" and complained that there weren't enough tax cuts in the measure.

And House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., suggested more even money was needed, saying: "This product may undershoot the mark."
 

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