Obama sells stimulus to Americans

February 9, 2009 8:20:52 PM PST
President Barack Obama tried to sell Americans on his more than $800 billion economic stimulus plan.He made the pitch during his first prime time news conference from the White House on Monday evening.

Earlier on Monday, the president took his message to Elkhart, Indiana, a community that's been especially hard hit by the economic crisis. Some are calling it the 2009 stimulus tour.

President Obama said the immediate goal of his administration is to stop the downward spiral and put people to work. He also had a dire warning that if the stimulus package is not passed the present deficit could turn a crisis into a catastrophe.

"It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that is moving forward through Congress is designed to do," said Obama.

On Monday night, President Barack Obama took his to message to the airwaves making yet another a sales pitch on the enormous package he is urging Congress to make law.

"We have to come together around a plan that combines hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the middle class with direct investments in areas like health care, energy education, and infrastructure, investments that will save jobs create new jobs and new businesses and help our economy grow again now and in the future," said Obama.

The president had a worldwide audience on Monday night, but earlier in the day, he spoke to a more intimate group.

The president took his campaign directly to recession victims at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana where residents waited in long lines to get in.

"Folks here in Elkhart and all across America need help right now. They can't keep waiting for the folks in Washington to get this done," said Obama.

Elkhart County is the heart of the nation's recreational vehicle industry. After last year's record gas prices and the growing recession, unemployment rose from just under 5 percent to over 15 percent.

"My business is flopping?Nobody's got money to spend money to give you a job to make money. It's terrible," said Mike Craw.

"I work for Whitehall Laboratory and they moved to Puerto Rico," said Joe Belew, Elkhart resident. "I'm pleased he is here. I hope he can get the stimulus package to the people who need it right now."

In the election Mr. Obama won Indiana, but lost Elkhart County, a Republican stronghold.

"I support him as my president. I'm here to listen and I want him to be successful because if he is, we all are," said Rich Floria of Elkhart.

President Obama holds his next town meeting on Tuesday in Fort Myers, Florida, another town hit hard by the recession.

People hoping for tickets to the event formed long lines in downtown Fort Myers on Monday.

Fifteen hundred tickets were supposed to be handed out to the public. Our ABC affiliate in Fort Myers is reporting only about 400 tickets were handed out to those standing in line and they were gone in minutes.

The president returns to the Midwest with a visit to Peoria on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary, will outline his plan to spend the remaining $700 billion in bailout money to loosen the credit markets.