Obama Brings the Stimulus Package Home
By Anne E. Kornblut
President Obama won the political war over whether to pass a stimulus package -- signing into law a $787 billion piece of legislation earlier this week. Now, as one of his aides put it, Obama is trying to win the peace.
That means selling the new law's benefits, and explaining how it will work as it is enacted. Today, in his weekly address, Obama announced that the Treasury Department would begin directing employers to reduce tax withholding from workers' paychecks, which would provide the average family with at least an extra $65 per month.
"Because of what we did, 95 percent of all working families will get a tax cut - in keeping with a promise I made on the campaign," Obama said. The new withholding levels, he said, would take effect April 1. "Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans."
Obama has a busy economic week ahead: He is holding a summit on fiscal responsibility at the White House on Monday, then plans to deliver a joint address to Congress on Tuesday night. His budget's blueprint is scheduled for release later in the week. The document will offer a guide to the president's priorities, and is expected to emphasize health care. In a new approach for the White House, it will also account for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Obama today sought to keep attention focused on the broader economic picture.
"No single piece of this broad economic recovery can, by itself, meet the demands that have been placed on us. We can't help people find work or pay their bills unless we unlock credit for families and businesses," he said
"We can't solve our housing crisis unless we help people find work so they can make payments on their homes. We can't produce shared prosperity without firm rules of the road and we can't generate sustained growth without getting our deficits under control. In short, we cannot successfully address any of our problems without addressing them all. And that is exactly what the strategy we are pursuing is designed to do."
He continued: "None of this will be easy. The road ahead will be long and full of hazards. But I'm confident that we, as a people, have the strength and wisdom to carry out this strategy and overcome this crisis. And if we do, our economy - and our country - will be better and stronger for it."
Posted at 6:00 AM ET on Feb 21, 2009
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