Obama To Sign Stimulus Bill In Colorado

President Obama will be in Colorado to sign the economic stimulus bill on Tuesday. The visit kicks off another week in which Obama will spend most of his time outside the nation's capital. He's trying to keep the focus on the economic impact and not on Washington politics.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

ARI SHAPIRO, host:

And I'm Ari Shapiro.

President Obama will be in Colorado today to sign the economic stimulus bill into law. The visit kicks off another week in which Mr. Obama will spend most of his time outside of the nation's capital. Mr. Obama's political adviser, David Axelrod, told ALL THINGS CONSIDERED last night that the trip is part of an effort to escape the Washington political debate and speak directly to the American people.

Mr. DAVID AXELROD (Presidential Adviser): Here in Washington the focus was on who's up and who's down and what this Republican is saying or that Democrat is saying. And around the country people were saying, I'm losing my job, I'm worried about my home, I'm worried about my healthcare and this economy is getting worse. And of course it is. And what are you guys going to do about it?

SHAPIRO: NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley joins us now. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Ari.

SHAPIRO: So is this stimulus bill the answer to that question that we just heard political adviser David Axelrod pose?

HORSLEY: Well, this is a part of what the Obama administration hopes to do about the sour economy. And it's interesting that they've chosen to mark this occasion not here in Washington but in a state, Colorado. If they were at the White House, the president would likely be surrounded by the lawmakers who backed the stimulus package, and it would be hard to escape the fact that there were only three Republicans in that crowd.

So instead he's going out to Colorado, where the focus will not be on the messy politics behind the stimulus but on the economic impact for the people.

SHAPIRO: Why Colorado specifically? I mean, people are losing jobs, sadly, in many parts of the country.

HORSLEY: Well, that's right. To hear Colorado's governor tell it, this is a salute to that state's investment and leadership in green energy, alternative energy. The stimulus package includes about $50 billion in incentives for energy efficiency and alternatives. And so the president will be speaking to a couple of hundred clean energy business executives and he'll be using as his backdrop a museum in Denver that has a large solar collector on its rooftop.

SHAPIRO: Now, the Obama administration has said this measure will save or create about three-and-a-half million jobs over the next two years, but that number is lower than the number that we heard when these conversations began, isn't it?

HORSLEY: Well, remember, initially they wanted as many as four million jobs, but the $787 billion stimulus package that cleared the compromise is smaller than either the House or Senate version - it's been scaled down. And it also includes things like the Alternative Minimum Tax provision. That's $70 billion that no one thinks is going to create a lot of jobs.

That said, the administration says it's confident that this measure will begin to show effects within six months. And what they're hoping is not necessarily that we'll see an end to the rise in unemployment but at least a slowing of the rise in unemployment. Remember, we've been losing more than a half a million jobs a month for the last several months, and they're hoping to slow that growth and keep it from reaching double digits nationwide.

A lot of economists, though, are doubtful that they're going to reach even that lower target of three-and-a-half million jobs.

SHAPIRO: Now, this bill is just part of the Obama administration's economic platform. Tomorrow we're going to hear something about the president's plan to limit foreclosures, and I understand he's going to Arizona to present that.

HORSLEY: That's right. Arizona has the third-highest foreclosure rate in the country, and he'll be announcing his plans in Phoenix. Fifty billion dollars at least will be devoted to foreclosure prevention. And the question will be what mix of carrots and sticks has the administration put together to try to keep both the servicers of mortgages and the investors from pushing forward with putting people out of their homes?

SHAPIRO: That's NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Ari.

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