Obama hopes to get new stimulus plan through by mid-February

January 24th, 2009 - 9:18 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 24 (IANS) President Barack Obama is confident that efforts to pass a new $825 billion economic stimulus package by mid-February are “on target,” despite Republican lawmakers’ objections to some elements of the plan.Obama exuded optimism as he went into meeting at the White House Friday to discuss the stimulus proposal with Vice President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of nine congressional leaders from both Democratic and Republican parties.

Obama said he recognizes that “there are still some differences around the table and between the administration and the members of Congress about particular details” of the plan.

“But what I think unifies this group is recognition that we are experiencing an unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with, and dealt with rapidly,” Obama said.

However, he said, “it appears we are on target” to get the package through Congress by the Presidents’ Day weekend. Presidents’ Day falls Feb 16.

Obama told the group: “The recovery package that we’re passing is only going to be one leg in at least a three-legged stool.”

He said it has to be “part and parcel of a reform package” aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the way taxpayer dollars are managed as part of the stimulus effort.

The president has received some pushback from both sides of the aisle on his stimulus plan, as he tries to sell a plan that includes tax cuts and massive spending efforts.

After Friday’s meeting, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner said he was concerned about the size of the bill, arguing that less spending and more tax cuts were needed to have a real and fast impact on the economy.

“At this point we believe spending nearly $1 trillion is really more than we ought to be putting on the backs of our kids and their kids,” Boehner told reporters outside the White House. Republican party proposes “fast-acting tax relief” in the form of bigger tax cuts, he said.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi countered that the cost of the stimulus plan is less important than the quality of the recovery it creates.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama plans to visit Capitol Hill next week to continue listening to ideas from both parties on how to get the economy moving again.

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