Obama team faces tough battles

January 18, 2009 4:42:38 PM PST
It seems like a political paradox, a Washington, D.C. filled with joy and hope and excitement as Barack Obama makes history and promises a new direction, while the economy around us is filled with a deepening sense of gloom and doom that may take years to turn around. It was very surreal, but that was the situation Sunday, two days before the inauguration.

"Yes, we can. Yes, we can did," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The feelings of joy and hope permeated a luncheon in Washington, D.C. also were felt in the giant crowd that filled the national mall for the a musical extravaganza.

The optimism was also reflected in the numbers in ABC's pre-inauguration poll: Eighty percent of participants approve of the way the transition is going. Seventy-nine percent like Barack Obama, and 71 percent support his economic recovery plan, all of which is no surprise to Obama's friends and former colleagues from Illinois who were in Washington for the inaugural celebration.

"He has always been as cool as a cucumber. Nothing shakes him. He is going to get the job done as long as he has cooperation by a lot of us in Congress," said Crete Rep. Debbie Halvorson.

"Everyone wants him to succeed. I believe in America. They want him to succeed. ," said Chicago's Mayor Daley.

But the mayor, whom many people wanted to talk to or take a picture with Sunday, is bearish on the economic crisis that includes rising unemployment and mortgage foreclosures, as well as a credit freeze that is contributing to new bank and business failures every day.

"This is not a recession. This is a restructuring of America," Daley said.

"I think it's fair to say that it's going to take not months, but years to really turn this around," Obama advisor said Sunday during an interview on ABC's This Week.

Axelrod offered a sober appraisal of the critical situation as he defended the $825 billion economic recovery plan that Obama is working on with Congress in the face of Republican reactions like the following:

"Oh, my God. I just can't tell you how shocked I am at what we're seeing," one GOP lawmaker said.

"We're not just spending money to create jobs. We're investing money to strengthen this economy. We're investing in creating the classrooms of the 21st century for our kids to give us the kind of education system we need," Axelrod said.

He and the other members of the new administration are promising to fix the crumbling infrastructure and invest in the future and pull Americans out of the economic mess, while a lot of Republicans are visualizing trillion-dollar deficits and pointing out that every one of the new jobs that Obama wants to create will cost nearly $300,000. They see deficits for generations ahead and no sign that this will work, but of course, to borrow an old political cliche, 'time will tell.' And Obama's time begins Tuesday morning.


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