WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama wants an economic stimulus package worth nearly as much as $800 billion. That hefty price tag means he'll have to sell both Congress and the public on his plan.
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Top Priority: The Economy
On his first full day in Washington, the economy is at the top of the agenda for the President-elect.
On Capitol Hill this afternoon, he looks to build support for his proposed stimulus plan. Aides to Obama, who has been calling for bold and swift action, say it could total up to $775 billion.
"We need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape," said the President-elect.
To win over bipartisan support, the plan includes around $300-billion in tax cuts for the middle class and American businesses.
There's also money to help cash-strapped states. But a bulk of the money calls for investments in renewable energy, infrastructure and creating millions of jobs.
Later this week, Obama will make his pitch for public support, delivering a major speech on the economy.
For now, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are vowing to move quickly.
"Whatever it takes to bring this country back on a fiscal footing that is decent. We don't want to do a little bit and come back and say lets do more. we want to do it right the first time," Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said.
Stimulus Ready by Inauguration? Not Likley
Obama had hoped to sign an economic stimulus bill to jump start the economy immediately after his swearing in two weeks from now, but now it looks like it won't be ready till February, as congressional Republicans want more time to sift through the details.
"This is an enormous bill. It could be close to a trillion dollar spending bill," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Do we want it with essentially no hearings and no input, for example, in the Senate from Republican senators who represent half of the American population?"
Obama will have to sell his stimulus package with a new nominee for commerce secretary. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson withdrew his nomination because of a grand jury investigation into whether he exchanged state government contracts for campaign financing.
Still, finding a new nominee for commerce secretary will be easy compared to finalizing a massive stimulus plan for the economy.