Obama Starts Busy Week With Trips To Colo., Ariz.
ARI SHAPIRO, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
It may be no surprise that President Obama's schedule this week looks almost like he's still campaigning. He'll promote his economic policies in Denver and Phoenix. The president won a victory when Congress passed a stimulus plan that he will sign while traveling this week. But he won it over fierce Republican opposition.
The plan has an enormous price tag, and it will be months or even years before it's clear if the plan works. We're going to talk about all of this with NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts, who joins us more Monday mornings. Cokie, good morning.
COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Steve, welcome back.
INSKEEP: Thank you. Glad to be back. When we talk about fierce Republican opposition, I want to play a little bit of tape here. This is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in a heated discussion on ABC News.
Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM (Republican, South Carolina): If this is going to be bipartisanship, the country is screwed. I know bipartisanship when I see it. I participated in it. There's nothing about this process that's been bipartisan.
INSKEEP: Cokie Roberts, the president was hoping for 80 votes in the Senate on his stimulus plan. It fell a little short.
ROBERTS: Yes. He got three Republican votes. But Lindsey Graham has been bipartisan - he's telling the truth there. He has worked with Senator Hillary Clinton on legislation. He was one of the people who worked on getting senators together on filibusters on court appointments.
So, his criticism is one to be taken somewhat seriously, as is John McCain's, which was also heated yesterday - where he said it's a bad beginning because this isn't what we promised the American people. So, you do have Republicans who are angry or at least upset that they were not more included in the writing of this enormous piece of legislation.
Now look, the Democrats say they got a whole lot of things. They got a bunch of amendments they wanted, they got a smaller price tag, they got some reductions in spending the Democrats wanted. But the Democrats were not in a position to completely cave for Republicans. This is what the voters said in November, that they wanted change. Also, the Democrats say, you can't wait. This is too urgent a situation. You can't wait for everybody to come together.
The president's chief, one of his chief aides, David Axelrod, said yesterday the trajectory is horrible on unemployment, and he's hoping that this stimulus package will slow things down.
INSKEEP: Well, now, let me ask about the politics of this, because you did have, as you said, all but three Republicans in the Senate voting no. You had every Republican in the House of Representatives voting against this package. Do Republicans think the public is going to reward them for opposing the president on this?
ROBERTS: Well, they're taking the gamble that this won't work and that it will drive up deficits. And of course it is so much money coming into all kinds of programs that there are likely to be stories about waste or, even worse, corruption. And the Democrats, this way, own it. This is their package, their economy.
Of course, the risk for the Republicans is that it might work. And of course for the country they have to hope it does work. So, they're in the position the Democrats were in when the Republicans were in power, which is not a good position - sitting around hoping that the economy is bad. Of course, for the Democrats, that did happen; it did go bad.
INSKEEP: Cokie, let me ask about a Democratic senator, one of the new ones; Roland Burris, the appointee from Illinois, seems to be in a little bit of trouble.
ROBERTS: He does indeed. As you remember, Steve, this was all tied up with former Illinois Governor Blagojevich and the question of trying to sell the Senate seat. Roland Burris said he had not had extensive contacts with the governor or his aides. Now it turns out he had more contacts than he told us about at the beginning. And so the Republicans in Illinois want to start a corruption investigation.
The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he wants to see what happens in Illinois, as he looks at this situation. So, it's another messy Illinois political story.
INSKEEP: Okay. News analysis on this Monday morning from NPR's Cokie Roberts. Thanks very much.
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