Obama Watches Inaugural Parade

President Barack Obama and his family watched the inaugural parade outside of the White House. He will spend the rest of the evening attending a host of inaugural balls in Washington.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And that's where we go now. NPR's John Ydstie is outside the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue. He's across from where President Obama and his family are watching the inaugural parade. John, what's going on right now?

JOHN YDSTIE: Well, the Grambling State University Marching Band just marched by. The Obamas waved and smiled at them. Both Mr. and Mrs. Obama there, but Malia and Sasha, I think, have given up.

BLOCK: Yeah, it's been a long parade, a long day.

YDSTIE: It's been a long parade and a long day. Joe Biden is there, the new vice president, but Mrs. Biden seems to be missing. And a lot of the dignitaries have taken their leave, actually, from this reviewing stand. I suppose people have gone home to get into their party clothes and head for some of the balls.

BLOCK: Yeah, I wanted to ask about that. But I do have to ask you about the lawn mower brigade that went by just a while ago. Who were they?

YDSTIE: Yeah. A lawn mower brigade from Arcola, Illinois. I guess because they're from Illinois they got into the parade, but it was the strangest unit in the parade so far. A bunch of guys dressed up in red capes and pushing lawn mowers with American flags decking them out, so...

BLOCK: Why not, why not?

YDSTIE: Why not.

BLOCK: OK, on to the balls. What's ahead for the First Couple tonight?

YDSTIE: Well, the neighborhood ball, I think, is the first ball that comes up tonight over at the convention center. And I think it's, as I understand it, an open ball, so there'll be a lot of people there anxious to see President Obama and Michelle Obama as they make their rounds of all the balls.

BLOCK: And many more to follow that one.

YDSTIE: Yes, indeed.

BLOCK: John, after all of these celebrations today and tonight, tomorrow the hard work begins.

YDSTIE: It does begin, and President Obama alluded to the hard work in his speech today. The economy, probably first on the agenda. Tomorrow his treasury secretary-designate goes before Congress for the Finance Committee for confirmation, and he's had his troubles, so I'm sure the president will be crossing his fingers. He's waiting for other cabinet members to be confirmed. He's got a stimulus package that he's trying to work out. Luckily he got some TARP money before President Bush left, so there's $350 billion for him to use to deal with financial crises. But he has a full plate on his desk - mixed metaphors.

BLOCK: John, you're competing with the trumpets and horns behind you there. But I did want to ask you about this. You've been covering all these efforts to bolster the US economy, including the stimulus package that you mentioned. What is on the president's immediate agenda with those moves?

YDSTIE: Well, the president, the stimulus package is first up. I mean, he's got a $775 billion package that he's been talking about. The House Democrats have proposed something in the neighborhood of 825 billion. There's disagreement over what the mix should be, whether there should be tax cuts or there ought to be spending. The House Democrats have left some tax cuts out, much to the consternation of House reps. We'll see what happens, there's going to have to be a negotiation. A lot of people are suggesting we're going to get to a stimulus package close to a trillion dollars in the end.

BLOCK: OK. And the president to meet with his senior economic advisers tomorrow. John, thanks so much.

YDSTIE: You're very welcome.

BLOCK: That's NPR's John Ydstie on the parade route in front of the White House as the parade goes on and on.

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