Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Signed, sealed, delivered: ARRA

The economic recovery package is essential for our nation's economy, for its infrastructure, and for our energy, health, and education needs -- and now it's the law.

After months of planning and weeks of negotiation, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act today in Denver, CO.

"What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability," President Obama said before signing the bill into law. "And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. That is why we have created Recovery.gov – so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent."

That site, Recovery.gov, is now live. You can go there to see projections -- based on language in the legislation -- of where your money will go, broken down state-by-state. And over the coming weeks and months, as the funds start to go out, you'll be able to see far more detailed information.

It's just the beginning of a long process, of course -- on Air Force One today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called it "a strong start towards economic viability."

"Our American story is not -- and has never been -- about things coming easy," the President said in his remarks at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. "It’s about rising to the moment when the moment is hard, converting crisis into opportunity, and seeing to it that we emerge from whatever trials we face stronger than we were before."

Obama signs $787 billion stimulus bill into law - Denver Post

DENVER, Feb 17 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama signed a $787 billion economic stimulus package on Tuesday as global markets plunged on fears that governments were doing too little, too late to fight the deepening recession.

Declaring it would lay the groundwork for "real and lasting change for generations to come," Obama signed the bill in Colorado, an electoral battleground state in the 2008 presidential election.

Obama has staked his own political viability on the package, a mixture of tax cuts and spending projects, saying its success will determine his own.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Caren Bohan)

Obama to sign $787 billion stimulus bill Tuesday- Yahoo News

WASHINGTON – Savoring his first big victory in Congress, President Barack Obama on Saturday celebrated the newly passed $787 billion economic stimulus bill as a "major milestone on our road to recovery."

Speaking in his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said, "I will sign this legislation into law shortly, and we'll begin making the immediate investments necessary to put people back to work doing the work America needs done."

At the same time, he cautioned, "This historic step won't be the end of what we do to turn our economy around, but rather the beginning. The problems that led us into this crisis are deep and widespread, and our response must be equal to the task."

The bill passed Congress on Friday on party-line votes, allowing Democratic leaders to deliver on their promise of clearing the legislation by mid-February. Obama could sign the measure as early as Monday.

"It will take time, and it will take effort, but working together, we will turn this crisis into opportunity and emerge from our painful present into a brighter future," the president said.

Obama "now has a bill to sign that will create millions of good-paying jobs and help families and businesses stay afloat financially," said Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who was a leading architect of the measure.

"It will shore up our schools and roads and bridges, and infuse cash into new sectors like green energy and technology that will sustain our economy for the long term," he added in a statement.

Hours earlier, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell offered a different prediction for a bill he said was loaded with wasteful spending.

"A stimulus bill that was supposed to be timely, targeted and temporary is none of the above," he said in remarks on the Senate floor. "And this means Congress is about to approve a stimulus that's unlikely to have much stimulative effect."

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, in the GOP radio address Saturday, contended Democrats settled "on a random dollar amount in the neighborhood of $1 trillion and then set out to fill the bucket."

Obama, who was spending the weekend in Chicago, planned to fly back to Washington on Monday. His schedule for the week ahead includes trips to Denver on Tuesday to talk about his economic agenda and a visit to Phoenix on Wednesday to present a plan to fight foreclosures.

In a struggle lasting several weeks, lawmakers in the two political parties both emphasized they wanted to pass legislation to revitalize the economy and ease frozen credit markets. But the plan that the administration and its allies eventually came up drew the support of only three Republicans in Congress — moderate Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Their support was critical, though, in helping the bill squeak through the Senate on a vote of 60-38, precisely the number needed for passage. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown cast the 60th vote in favor in a nearly deserted Senate, hours after the roll call began. He arrived after a flight aboard a government plane from Ohio, where he was mourning the death of his mother earlier in the week.

The House vote was 246-183.

The legislation, among the costliest ever considered in Congress, provides billions of dollars to aid victims of the recession through unemployment benefits, food stamps, medical care, job retraining and more. Tens of billions are ticketed for the states to offset cuts they might otherwise have to make in aid to schools and local governments, and there is more than $48 billion for transportation projects such as road and bridge construction, mass transit and high-speed rail.

Democrats said the bill's tax cuts would help 95 percent of all Americans, much of the relief in the form of a break of $400 for individuals and $800 for couples. At the insistence of the White House, people who do not earn enough money to owe income taxes are eligible, an attempt to offset the payroll taxes they pay.

In a bow to political reality, lawmakers included $70 billion to shelter upper middle-class and wealthier taxpayers from an income tax increase that would otherwise hit them, a provision that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would do relatively little to create jobs.

Also included were funds for two of Obama's initiatives, the expansion of computerized information technology in the health care industry and billions to create green jobs the administration says will begin reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Friday's events capped an early period of accomplishment for the Democrats, who won control of the White House and expanded their majorities in Congress in last fall's elections.

Since taking office on Jan. 20, the president has signed legislation extending government-financed health care to millions of lower-income children who lack it, a bill that President George W. Bush twice vetoed. Obama also has placed his signature on a measure making it easier for workers to sue their employers for alleged job discrimination, effectively overturning a ruling by the Supreme Court's conservative majority.
Search Obama'12 Articles ▼

OBAMA and Economy