Obama's $885 Billion Problem

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WASHINGTON - At $885 billion few would disagree that the stimulus legislation before the Senate is a whopper of a bill.

Republicans call a lot of what's in it "wasteful" and along with a handful of Democrats are trying to rein in spending. That sets up a scenario spelling trouble for President Barack Obama's plan to jumpstart the economy.

Click play for more on the stimulus bill facing the Senate with Scott Wheeler of the National Republican Trust.

Record Level Unemployment

In Washington State, unemployment is at a record level. With 14,000 new claims last week alone, state officials decided to add extra Saturday hours to meet the demand for people seeking work.

"We logged 19,000 overtime hours in the last three months," said the Washington Employment Security Department's Nan Thomas.

"I'm afraid of losing everything that I have: my house, everything. Because, I won't be able to afford my bills," out-of-work New Jersey resident Denis Beteri said.

With millions of Americans anxious about losing their jobs, the bleak outlook is forcing some to look for work overseas.

"United Arab Emirates, I'll go anywhere in the world for a good job at this point in time," said Joan Lipski, another unemployed New Jersey resident.

The President says his economic recovery plan will help by saving or creating 3 million jobs.

"We hope to be able to get a bill in the next couple of weeks to put America back to work and start digging ourselves out this deep hole that we're in," Obama said.

GOP: Bill Loaded with Useless Pork

But with a price tag nearing one trillion dollars and lobbyists lining up to raise the final cost even more, Republicans aren't buying in.

"If you started spending the day that Jesus was born and you spent a million dollars every single day, you still wouldn't have spend a trillion dollars. This is a lot of money. Our goal is to produce a bill that makes a difference, not to kill the measure," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Republicans say the current plan is loaded with wasteful pork. They want to spend less and funnel more money toward tax relief and to combat the mortgage meltdown.

But Democrats say the bill addresses one central issue.

"This package for economic recovery and reinvestment is about jobs number one, jobs number two, jobs number three," Sen. Robert Menedez insisted.

Weeding Through the Junk

Obama calls the differences "modest," but he's putting pressure on his own party to reach a bipartisan consensus.

To iron out those differences, a team of about 10 senators from both sides of the aisle are combing through the bill weeding out unnecessary spending that won't help immediately stimulate the economy.

Fixing the Financial Market

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is working on another front: trying to fix the mess in the financial market.

Officials are considering a new framework to help struggling banks, suggesting some may fail. They're also considering restricting the salaries of executives whose banks are getting government help.

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John Jessup

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