Obama Seeks Grass-Roots Support For Stimulus

President Barack Obama will face a barrage of questions from ordinary Americans and skeptical reporters on his plans to reinvigorate the economy with a massive stimulus bill and additional billions in bailout money for the financial markets.

Two trips to cities hurting under the economic meltdown and a prime-time news conference are signs that Obama and his advisers are worried about a looming Senate vote on the stimulus bill, which failed to gather meaningful Republican support during rare weekend debate. The question-and-answer sessions will allow Obama to go directly to voters for grass-roots backing of his plans.

Both trips were added to Obama's schedule as difficulties with the legislation on Capitol Hill increased. Originally, aides had insisted his time would be better spent in Washington to shepherd the bill rather than traveling the more traditional presidential route around the country, pressuring lawmakers from his bully pulpit.

The $827 billion Senate version of the plan was expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday. However, it must be reconciled with the House version, which totaled $820 billion in spending and tax cuts. With Senate and House negotiators preparing to deal, Obama is likely to push for a bill on his desk for his signature by mid-month.

"The president's top man on the economy is the president," Larry Summers, the chairman of the White House National Economic Council, said on "Fox News Sunday." Summers added: "He listens to advice from all of us, and he sets his direction."

For his first direct pitch to citizens, Obama scheduled a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind. He was to return to Washington for the news conference Monday night. On Tuesday he plans to visit Fort Myers, Fla., an area hit hard by foreclosures.

"Americans across this country are struggling, and they are watching to see if we're equal to the task before us. Let's show them that we are. And let's do whatever it takes to keep the promise of America alive in our time," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

The Elkhart-Goshen region in northern Indiana saw its unemployment rate soar to 15.3 percent in December, up a whopping 10.6 percentage points from December 2007. The region has been bruised by layoffs in the recreational vehicle industry. Hundreds of workers have lost their jobs at RV makers such as Monaco Coach Corp., Keystone RV Co. and Pilgrim International.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the meeting would give the president a chance to hear Americans' concerns about the bill, which was set to have a key vote in the Senate on Monday afternoon.

"I think this is another chance for the president to talk directly to the American people about what he thinks is at stake," Gibbs said. "Watching millions lose their jobs, and having in front of Congress — and hopefully in front of him soon — a plan to save or create millions more jobs and get people back to work, putting money in people's pockets, getting help for state and local governments so they don't have to lay off firefighters or teachers or police officers."

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  • by Anonymous on Feb 14, 2009 at 01:04 PM
    I like how they describe the bs on this stimulous bill as shovel ready! They're shoveling it alright. Smells just like CHANGE!
  • by Danny Location: NC on Feb 11, 2009 at 11:29 AM
    Hi Keith at 09:41PM -- I want to be a Stock Market Investor. I want to know all about the Market like you. Whats your advice on what Stocks to buy? Dow still going down today. More sellers then buyers today. What sould I do Keith what should I buy Lockheed Martin, P&G, WalMart? Ect. Just give me a winner Keith
  • by gas Location: north carolina on Feb 10, 2009 at 08:24 PM
    I just wish he would do something about the cost of fuel. I just dont understand how gas can go down and up for no reason. I really beleive the cost of fuel is one of the reasons for this economic situation. Nobody could buy anything but fuel.
  • by Keith on Feb 10, 2009 at 06:41 PM
    Investor, If you are a investor you would know more about the Stock Market
  • by Lenny Location: NC on Feb 10, 2009 at 09:31 AM
    Hi Lavon - Obama could not even run a dog house in his back yard. How is he going to help us?
  • by Investor Location: NC on Feb 10, 2009 at 09:25 AM
    Every time Obama gets on TV or one of his other Democratic Crooks & Tax cheats gets on TV the Stock Market Crashes. Dow is down 285 points already today. Is Obama out to really help this country? or is he really out to destroy it? Old Proverb Beware of the enemy from within.
  • by Neighbor on Feb 9, 2009 at 08:22 PM
    Gator: Seriously? How did Dubya waste money? Spending millions of dollars a DAY on a pointless war does not count as a waste of money to you? And don't tell me the money spent in Iraq was used to protect the US from terrorists. The Iraq "war" has nothing to do with terrorism - even Bush admitted that his reasoning for invading the country was flawed and had nothing to do with WMDs or anything else terrorist-related. If he was so fiscally responsible, how has our national debt exploded into the trillions in the last eight years? Also, the kids graduating (or not) right now were in elementary school when Clinton was president. I'm pretty sure his education policies have little if any effect on people who were ten years old when he left the White House. PS: "No Child Left Behind" isn't working. It may help the idiotic kids, but the other children are suffering while teachers focus on passing arbitrary tests instead of teaching. Go talk to any public school teacher and you'll see.
  • by Vbush Location: MHCY on Feb 9, 2009 at 07:56 PM
    Cheering for voter!!:)
  • by voter Location: nc on Feb 9, 2009 at 07:05 PM
    Further; the evident mindset of the children is, if daddy can give his precious child everything,,,why can't the government? after all,,,they're special and entitled aren't they?? honorable bloggie indeed. the name may change but the smell remains.
  • by Gator Location: NC on Feb 9, 2009 at 05:59 PM
    Lavon, How did President Bush waste the money? Protecting the United States from terrorist. Or was it, letting all the people get mortgages they could not afford. Or was it giving money to other nations for abortions? Was it "More at Four" so more teacher and schools could be built. The last time I checked, it took at least 13 years for a child to graduate from public education, not 8. So the kids not graduating right now are from the Clinton years.

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