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Will Obama's economic plan stimulate bipartisan support?

  • Story Highlights
  • President Obama says his plan looks to create up to 4 million new jobs
  • House set to vote on an $825 billion dollar stimulus bill on Wednesday
  • House Minority Leader Boehner says many Republicans will not vote
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From Ed Hornick
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama, who arguably won a large chunk of political capital in the 2008 election, is now looking to cash in as he urges Congress to pass a massive economic stimulus package.

President Obama is urging Congress to pass a massive economic recovery package by February 16.

President Obama is urging Congress to pass a massive economic recovery package by February 16.

But questions about how to spend the money and concerns about the last stimulus package under former President Bush, may create a roadblock.

It's something the newly minted president is hoping to avoid. But like most things in Washington, cooperation doesn't come easy.

And that may be why Obama painted an extremely grim portrait of the nation's economy on Saturday -- just hours before he met with his economic team, and days before he meets with Republicans leaders on Capitol Hill.

"We begin this year and this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action," he said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last 26 years, and experts agree that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits."

Obama pleaded for quick action, warning, "a bad situation could become dramatically worse." Video Watch Obama's weekly address »

The president urged congressional members to quickly pass an $825 billion economic stimulus package, which he hopes will create up to 4 million jobs over the next two years.

Obama said he plans to take a three-pronged approach to recovery: Stabilize the financial system, fix market regulation and pass the stimulus plan. Read more on the plan

Negotiations are set to continue this week, as the House is expected to hold a vote on its stimulus plan on Wednesday. The Senate is set to begin its deliberation over its stimulus proposal, after announcing its own plan on Friday.

The president hopes to have the plan passed by Congress and on his desk for signing by February 16, which is Presidents Day.

On Sunday, Obama's director of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, said greater accountability will be a part of the new plan.

"But there is one other thing that we are also very mindful of, which is money has to be spent well. And that's why the president's put new emphasis on accountability," Summers said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

After a stimulus bill is passed, a Web site, www.recovery.gov, will show taxpayers how their money is being spent, Obama said Saturday. Video Watch more on the new Web site »

But not everyone is on board just yet -- including an influential Democrat.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, is skeptical about the job numbers.

"I think we have to have some question about the number, simply because most of the models that determine you can create that number of jobs are based on the financial system working normally," he said on CNN's "State of the Union with John King" on Sunday.

Conrad said while he thinks Obama's stimulus plan is "wise," other key questions need to be answered: "Are we doing enough to help the financial sector? Are we doing enough about housing?"

"Because if we don't get those two right, we're not going to see the kind of lift out of this downturn that we need," he added. Video Watch a Wall Street trader discuss Obama's plan »

But a new national poll suggests that a majority of Americans think it will take the country two years or longer to recover from the current recession. Only 13 percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday think the economy will recover within a year.

Twenty-seven percent think it will take up to two years and 59 percent feel it will take two years or longer to recover from the current recession, which has already lasted 13 months.

While Obama extended the proverbial olive branch to Republicans during a meeting last week, there is still skepticism over key fundamental differences. Video Watch more on the bipartisanship efforts to pass a plan »

"The American people know we cannot borrow and spend and bail our way back to a growing economy," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana Sunday.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, who was critical of former President Bush's economic bailout program, said Friday the proposed $825 billion House plan won't go over well with many Republicans.

"I think a lot of Republicans will vote no, because they see this as a lot of wasteful Washington spending, padding the bureaucracy and doing nothing to help create jobs and preserve jobs," Boehner said on NBC Sunday.

Boehner cited in the past a recent non-partisan Congressional Budget Office review of the nearly $355 billion in spending aimed at infrastructure. The report indicated that less than half the amount would actually be spent in the next two years.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued Sunday that the CBO report doesn't paint the whole picture.

"First of all, the Congressional Budget Office only looked at 40 percent of the investments in the bill, by their own admission. They didn't even take a complete look at the bill. We have a letter from the administration that says 75 percent of the -- of the investments will be paid out in the first 18 months," Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." iReport.com: What should Obama do first?

Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said Sunday that if the stimulus plan were up for a vote today, he would not support it -- though stopped short of saying whether or not he'd filibuster it.

"We need to have a permanent moratorium on new taxes and we also need to provide and not spend money on programs that will not have an immediate effect on our economy -- and it's [Obama's plan] filled with billions of dollars worth of spending that will not stimulate the economy. ... Right now I could not vote for the stimulus package as it's been presented."

But CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll numbers released January 18 indicate that nearly 6 in 10 Americans support an increase in government spending to rev up the economy.

Fifty-eight percent of those questioned favor increased government spending to stimulate the economy compared with 4 in 10 who oppose it.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said he expects Republicans to rally behind the stimulus package.

"I think you're going to find a large number of Republicans voting for this package. There has been a lot of input. I regret that Sen. McCain has said he's not going to vote for it," Schumer said on "Fox News Sunday."

CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

All About Barack ObamaU.S. CongressU.S. National Economy

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