Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama team stimulus sell: bully pulpit, social networking, phone banks


WASHINGTON -- The Obama White House and Democratic allies have opened a multi-front campaign to build pressure on Congress to pass a stimulus package of more than $800 billion, using tools from the old-fashioned bully pulpit to Internet social networking


The Senate is expected to vote this week on a massive spending and tax cut bill, with the legislation poised to pass with only three GOP votes. Those Republicans are crucial in making the legislation filibuster-proof. The real wrangling will be over reconciling the $827 billion Senate bill with the $820 billion measure the House approved with no Republican votes. The administration prefers calling the package a "recovery" bill rather than a stimulus.

President Obama, in office three weeks Tuesday, imposed a Feb. 16 deadline for passage in the first major test of the bipartisan theme that dominated his presidential drive.

Obama is hitting the road. While there is some thought the White House should have engaged the public earlier, the Obama team is making up for lost time. Other aspects of the Obama blitz include:

• • Obama hosts a campaign-style town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind., today, landing Air Force One in South Bend and motorcading to an area suffering from high unemployment triggered by the economic meltdown. Tonight, Obama holds his first White House press conference, where questions about the stimulus will be expected when he meets the press in the East Room.

On Tuesday, Obama travels to Fort Myers, Fla., for another town hall meeting in a community hard hit by the recession.

• • Obama's offices of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison -- overseen by Valerie Jarrett -- have been working with opinion leaders for the last two weeks. Governors, mayors and CEOs have been at the White House. Others receiving briefings are leaders of foundations, women's organizations, labor unions and religious organizations.

• • Jarrett's operation is also staffing a phone bank providing briefings for elected officials and other organizations nationwide.

• • An advertising campaign has been launched by Americans United for Change, a Democratic-allied group designed to whip up support for the three moderate Republicans who are providing the Democrats with their filibuster-proof margins. Americans United is running radio ads thanking Maine GOP Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, as well as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). However, their backing is not 100 percent assured for the final vote on the merged House-Senate bill. Collins, who played a crucial roll in crafting a compromise, said her vote for the final bill is not a foregone conclusion.

• • Obama's team is resurrecting the social network "movement" --with millions of e-mails of supporters -- used so efficiently during the two years of the presidential campaign. "Obama for America" has morphed into a governing tool, "Organizing for America," based at the Democratic National Committee, complete with a Web site modeled after

Supporters are being asked to host or attend house meetings so they can "connect the recovery plan to their lives."


GIVE THE MONEY DIRECTLY TO THE TAXPAYERS!! The taxpayer can then pay bills and lower their debt, and a lot of that money will go to the banks. This would amount to about $3000 for EACH U.S. citizen ($12,000 for a family of 4). With less debt, every family would then have more disposable income to continue to stimulate the economy in the future.

American citizens just don't trust the politicians and corporate CEOs with the taxpayer's money.

There is a huge earmark in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the Stimulus package!

Allocating $40,000,000,000 to pay insurers for COBRA is obscene:

1) that's an earmark for insurers if I ever saw one!

2) these people have gotten employer subsidies for insurance for years - why will they now get a government subsidy as well? If they paid taxes on the subsidy, it might make sense - not this.

3) $40,000,000,000 should pay subsidies for everyone who doesn't have Medicare or employer-subsidized health care!!!

4) this insults the uninsured, many of whom have gone years without health care. Those who recently lost their jobs have gotten health care all along! Many times it is terrifice health care as well; for some it's as good as for government employees.

The economy seems to get worse every day, but that makes it all the more important to see that the stimulus is properly done -- if it needs to be done at all.

Is Obama making a mistake by not make a bigger effort to see that the stimulus bill is a bipartisan effort?

During the election Obama promised change, specifically change in the way the political system works.

Wouldn't a big part of this change be to try to get Republicans and Democrats to work together on a stimulus bill at this critical time in our nations history?

Stumping along the lines of what Obama has been recently saying amounts little more than I won the election so I have a mandate from the people so we are going to do what I want to do.

How does that help encourage the Republicans to want to work with Obama?

All of the elected officials -- Democrats, Republicans, and Independents -- have the mandate of the people that elected them otherwise they would not be holding office.

Obama's line of reasoning that he has a mandate also forgets that he represents all the people that did NOT vote for him.

Although they might not have voted for him he still has a responsibility to them as well to not squander their tax dollars and to not ignore the law makers that they have duly elected.

What we are currently witnessing is the GOP Hijacking the Stimulus Package and holding it Hostage. Unfortunately for this country, George Bush and the GOP spent our money and be characterized by an Era of Irresponsibility and Neglect, while Obama wants to spend our money wisely and on rebuillding America, that is if the GOP lets him. The awful truth is that One Party has destroyed America while the other Party the Democratic Party wants to restore it.

For instance: If you have a home in which you used your money to spend on alcohol, good times and neglected your roof, your bills, and now your roof is in danger of collapsing because you used your money on good times instead of the upkeep of your home and now the Argument is you are unable to borrow money to fix your roof before it caves in because you used your money foolishly in the past is also recklesslness and neglect on the part of the lender, so they let the roof collapse.

In the Bush years 30 billion was spent in Afghanistan -- 50 billion in Iraq and now Congress wants to say we cannot spend necessary money at home which has so long been neglected? States were given no money in the Bush years and now they still want to keep money out of the States on a fraudulent theory.

It is now time to for Congress to put money back in to the United States and to spend money wisely and not fraudulently, irresponsibly and in the dark as in the Bush years. Obama believes in transparancey, hence you can find the Stimulus package on line for all to see.
GOP say this money will be more of the same. It will not be more of the same. This money will be used for Americans, for jobs, to rebuild for improvement and innovations to improve life not on wars and countries which have nothing to do with American people or on big business who do not need the money.

Bush and the Republicans inherited a Surplus from the Democrats and yet the GOP has created the worst economic crisis ever. The GOP should stop hijacking the Stimulus and do the right thing and let money flow back into America again, instead of holding the Democrats hostage from their quest of bringing help to the people and restoring American again.

It has been so long since we have seen our president address in depth all our concerns... fully and completely, he answered the questions, and he is trying so hard to make an answer for ALL of us.... Please give him a chance... Look at the intelligence and care he expresses for us all.

Shouldn't the merits of legislation speak for itself? If it wasn't so difficult to understand, Obama wouldn't have to be on the road and using the "bully pulpit".

I can't believe we're about to get the Raw New Deal. The last one didn't work, why would this one? It raised taxes on businesses up to 70%. That had the effect of driving most businesses under, and business is the only way out of a recession. The New Deal didn't get us out of the Great Depression - Hitler and Yamamoto did that.

If any stimulus bill need be done, it should be done in the form of tax cuts for both individuals and businesses, and the creation of jobs that will fill the ones that are being lost. $200M going to a museum does not replace a factory or retail job - exactly the jobs that are being lost!

Bottom line: The Gov't Stimulus Bill of 2009 requires $275,000 per job it creates. Private sector does that for $50,000 per job. Go figure - we'll take the government road.


I agree with Jenny Callicott comment.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 9, 2009 6:56 AM.

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