Obama Urges Acting Quickly On Economic Plan The president-elect said his proposal — which includes tax cuts for individuals and some businesses — would create or save about 3 million jobs. It's expected to cost as much as $775 billion over two years, although the ultimate price tag is not known.
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Obama Urges Acting Quickly On Economic Plan

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Obama Urges Acting Quickly On Economic Plan

Obama Urges Acting Quickly On Economic Plan

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ALEX COHEN, host:

For more on Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan, we're joined now by Jeanne Cummings. She's the chief money correspondent for Politico.com. Welcome to the program, Jeanne. And would you like to share your take? What are some of the potential challenges and strengths of this proposal we heard?

Ms. JEANNE CUMMINGS (Chief Money Correspondent, Politico.com): Well, there are great challenges, of course. The greatest one of all is if Congress doesn't move quickly enough and keep the same basic scope of this economic recovery package that Barack Obama is promoting, the results actually could make things much worse because the markets now are pretty much baking into their cakes and their investments the idea that this will pass. And if he fails to get it - win legislatively, the economic calamity afterwards could be even worse.

So there are great risks for a president-elect to stick his neck out this far before he's even taken office. So I think that in his speech today, what he was trying to do was really emphasize for the public what - that they're - how dire he believes the situation is. If you look in public opinion polls, there is skepticism, since we've already spent a whole lot of money, and the public isn't feeling any real relief. In fact, they're still scared.

COHEN: Well, Jeanne, what role do you think the public might play in approval of this plan? Remember, during his campaign in the run-up to the White House, he relied heavily on this sort of grassroots effort to get elected. What role might America play in approving this plan?

Ms. CUMMINGS: Well, I definitely think that his speech today and his appearances all week have been aimed at educating the public about the need for this and trying to deal with any skepticism that is out there. He, himself, has not yet tapped his campaign email list and asked, you know, a call to action, call your congressman, that sort of thing.

However, about 20 progressive groups have joined together in one umbrella group, and they are doing that. And they are holding rallies. They're targeting mostly the moderate Senate Republicans whose vote the Democrats hope they can certainly bring over. And so they are holding rallies in their districts. They are getting their members to call their senators and put pressure on them to pass this. So it's being done, but not by the campaign structure that Obama had when he was running.

COHEN: There's been a lot of criticism of the $700 billion federal bailout for banks. There are a lot of folks in Congress who said there was not enough transparency in that process. Do you think Congress is ready to spend again, approve President-elect Obama's plan?

Ms. CUMMINGS: I do think that Congress has its back to the wall. They talk to the same economists we talk to and the same ones the president-elect does. And clearly there is a need for this. As to transparency, the Obama folks are promising this sort of online way of tracking money. But Congress included transparency items in the TARP as well, and they're actually very, very hard to read. So I don't know if the Obama team has got a new way of actually doing that. We haven't gotten the details on how it will work. But certainly what we've seen before that's supposed to be transparency has not been particularly helpful. So, we'll see.

COHEN: Jeanne Cummings is chief money correspondent for Politico.com. Thank you, Jeanne.

Ms. CUMMINGS: You're welcome.

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