Obama: Differences Shouldn't Delay Stimulus

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WASHINGTON - Despite virtually non-existant support from Republicans, President Barack Obama remains confident about his economic stimulus package saying that "very modest differences'" shouldn't impede swift passage.

In his quest to push the bill through, the President joined forces Monday with Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association.

"If I were writing it, it might look at little different," said Douglas. "But the essence of a recovery package is essential to get the nation's economy moving."

More Than GOP Raising Eybrows

As the Senate starts to debate its version of how to stimulate the economy, Republicans say Democrats should start over with a plan that actually works.

"There's $600 million for new cars for federal employees in there and $150 million for honeybee insurance. This is nonsense," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

With a price tag at nearly $900 billion - $70 billion more than the House version - it's not just Republicans raising questions.

Projects described as "wasteful spending" have skeptics on both sides of the aisle.

"I don't even know how many Democrats will vote for it as it stands today," Sen. Ben Nelson said.

Obama Remains Confident

Even as some senators expressed their doubt, in an interview with NBC News the President sounded confident that the legislation will pass.

"By the time we actually have the final package on the floor we are going to see substantial support and people are going to say this is a serious effort, it has no earmarks, we're going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now," Obama said.

Obama says he has made serious efforts to get Republicans on board - and to include some of their ideas. But his outreach so far hasn't materialized into GOP support, since Republicans believe the bill is too full of pork.

Last week's bill that passed the House didn't get a single Republican vote.

Dems Willing to Bend

But Senate Democrats are showing signs that they're willing to compromise to keep the economy from getting any worse.

"I think we will get enough Republicans to pass this -- the more the better, but I will say this: I'd rather have a really good bill that helps our economy get out of this mess, with 65 votes, than dilute the bill and get 80 votes," Sen. Charles Schumer said.

To make the package more attractive to Republicans, Democrats are considering how and where to trim spending, while increasing funding for infrastructure, the housing crisis, and tax cuts.

"If we start talking about 2001 after 9/11, it was the tax cuts that stimulated the economy," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison told NBC's Meet the Press.

Republicans and Democrats agree legislation is needed to jumpstart the economy.

This week, they're trying to strike an agreeable balance between tax cuts and spending on infrastructure - easier said than done.

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