Obama discusses stimulus package

January 23, 2009 7:24:08 PM PST
President Obama is pushing Congress to pass a massive economic stimulus package. On Friday, he met with leaders from both Houses and from both sides of the aisle.

It looks like this stimulus package is in the neighborhood of $825 billion. Before this economic crisis, that used to be a lot of money. Now there are concerns it may not be enough

On Friday, President Barack Obama sat down with Democratic and Republican lawmakers and pressed them to come together.

"We are monitoring what's been happening and frankly the news has not been good," said President Obama.

The president said the country's economic problems are growing.

"Not only in terms of job loss, but also in terms of some of the instabilities in the financial system," said President Obama.

He wants an economic stimulus package by mid-February.

"I know it is a heavy lift to do something as substantial as we are doing right now," said President Obama.

The package under discussion is expected to cost at least $825 billion. The White House claims it'll save or create between three and four million jobs.

Republicans aren't entirely happy.

"At this point, we believe that spending nearly a $1 trillion is really more than what we ought to be putting on the backs of our kids and their kids," said Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner.

The GOP has been advocating specific tax cuts, lowering individual income tax rates for working families and a ban on tax increases to pay for the spending.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi is optimistic.

"We're on schedule for our time table to have a bill on the president's desk to be signed before the President's Day recess," said Pelosi.

But so far, Republican support in the house has been non-existent.

"That's not a good sign, and the question is can they make a tweak in the package which is acceptable to the Democrats that will being some Republican votes," said ABC7 Political Analyst Bruce Cain, Ph.D.

Cain says there are proposals in the works. On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee offered:

  • $300 bonus payments to senior citizens.
  • $500 tax cut for most workers.
  • $2,500 tax credit to help pay for college.
  • $87 billion to help states fill budget gaps.
  • $7,500 tax credit for middle income first time home buyers to purchase homes in the first half of 2009.

    Measures the White House hopes will bring significant numbers of Republicans on board.

    "Because it would both simultaneously give them the stimulus package and it would be done in what looks like a bi-partisan manor," said Cain, Ph.D.

    That's important to the Obama administration, as we heard in the President's Inaugural Address.

    The Congressional Budget Office is expressing doubts that the money could be spent fast enough to reduce unemployment quickly.

    On Friday, the director of the White House Management and Budget Office pledged that at least 75 percent would be spent over the next two years.