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Obama at Town Hall: 'We Can't Afford to Wait'


President Obama speaks at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind. (Frank Polich/Bloomberg News)

By Michael A. Fletcher
ELKHART, Ind. -- President Obama stepped up his campaign for passage of a huge economic stimulus plan, telling people at a town-hall meeting here, "We can't afford to wait."

Speaking before hundreds of people packing a high school gym in this city that has been hard hit by the economic downturn, Obama today called on Congress to pass the stimulus plan quickly.

"The situation we face could not be more serious," Obama said, noting that the combination of rising unemployment and tightening credit is strangling the U.S. economy.

Obama was introduced at the town hall meeting by Ed Neufeldt, 62, a father of seven who was laid off last fall by Monaco Coach Co., a recreational vehicle maker here that has fallen on hard times.

"We want to work," said Neufeldt, who has been surviving on unemployment insurance.

The Senate has scheduled a procedural vote late this afternoon on its version of the stimulus package that was hammered out with a group of moderates over the weekend. The plan has attracted only scant Republican support, but is expected to pass.

But even if the Senate approves the $827 billion measure, it has to be reconciled with a measure passed earlier by the House, which includes broader spending proposals and fewer tax cuts.

Obama said today that he would like to see some education aid that was cut from the Senate version of the legislation restored, as the bill is reconciled in Congress.

Few places in the country has been as devastated by the still deepening economic downturn as Elkhart. Dubbed the "RV capital of the world," the city has seen jobs disappear as a combination high gasoline prices, tightening credit and rising unemployment have crippled the RV industry, leaving the city reeling. In the past year, unemployment in the county has soared to 15.3 percent -- just over double the national average -- and more than triple the rate here just one year ago.

RV makers including Pilgrim International, Starcraft and Monaco Coach Corp. have slashed hundreds of jobs here. And with an estimated one in four jobs in the city linked to the manufacture and service of recreational vehicles, an immediate turnaround is not in the offing, even as gasoline prices have eased.

Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore has been a strong proponent of Obama's stimulus plan. He has produced a list of 18 projects, including renovation of local theater and completion of a railroad overpass that would cost $92.4 million and create an estimated 2,300 jobs.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Obama said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 9, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Economy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: An Elkhart Primer
Next: Obama's First Presidential Proclamation Recognized African American History

Comments

Jake: How you been? Fine and well I hope.

Yes you're right - today was the cloture vote. Should pass tomorrow though.

Posted by: toritto | February 9, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

No, the actual vote was to stop debate on said bill -- as I always said, the Dems had plenty of votes to pass whatever they wanted, with or without GOP support -- tomorrow will be the real vote though.

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

The Senate just passed the amended bill 61-37 with three GOP votes.

Heehee!

:-)

Want some cheese with that shine??

Posted by: toritto | February 9, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

O'Bomba-Nation Squeals: ""We can't afford to wait."

Ohhhh;

YES, we CAN!

The Bill is FLAWED!

Expedite Monetary Aid to the people NEEDING LOANS!

Two MONTHS AGO!

FIFTY MILLION $10,000 Loans to every deserving and NEEDY American;

only $500 Billion!

That, and ENFORCEMENT of FEDERAL Labor Laws!

Is WHAT IS URGENTLY NEEDED!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 9, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

"We are going "Off a cliff!" Dark, darker, darkest. Mortal danger of absolute collapse. Armageddon."
-----
The difference between Obama's statements about the economy and Bush's "mushroom cloud" statements?

One involves our very existence
and
the other is actually true

Who's was really trying to "scare" us?

Posted by: JRM2 | February 9, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Artists don't need jobs and we don't need artists.

Posted by: JRM2 | February 9, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

We probably can't afford these new Presidential Helicopters either:

http://thecurrent.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/03/choppers.php

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"Obama was introduced at the town hall meeting by Ed Neufeldt, 62, a father of seven"

Too many kids, contributing to the worlds over-population. Obama, contributing to the nations debt and making Bush look better every day. Quite a feat.

Posted by: Billw3 | February 9, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

WHILE TEAM OBAMA IS PURPOSELY DISTRACTED
BY THE 'GENERATED' ECONOMIC CRISIS...

...IS HIS PRESIDENCY -- AND YOUR LIBERTY -- BEING COVERTLY STOLEN?

********************************************

EYES ONLY. TO: President Obama; MICHELLE OBAMA; VP Biden; R. Emanuel; D. Axelrod; D. Blair; J. Brennan; J. Jones; E. Holder; J. Napolitano; R. Gates; L. Panetta; H. Clinton; T. Geithner; R. Mueller; H. Reid; N. Pelosi; D. Feinstein; S. Reyes


RE: Credible reports of HUMAN/CIVIL RIGHTS ABUSES by the ongoing Bush-Cheney EXTRAJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT NETWORK...

...comprised of security/intel agents, local police nationwide, and citizen vigilantes fronted by government-funded community policing and anti-terrorism programs.


IT IS DAY 21 OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

DO YOU *REALLY* KNOW WHAT YOUR "MULTI-AGENCY ACTION CENTER" IS UP TO?

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-targets-terrorizes-u-s-citizens

http://my.nowpublic.com/world/domestic-torture-radiation-weaponry-americas-horrific-shame

OR (IF LINKS ARE CORRUPTED/DISABLED):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 9, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I have an Idea!

Take $500 Billion, divide it into 50 Million $10,000 LOANS, so these Unionized Schmucks, can leave their cushy Union Jobs behind, and re-locate somewhere where Workers are needed!

Then, allow me to also get one of those Loans, so I can keep my Truck, and pay my rent, along with getting Gas and Food!

In exchange, I'll announce that here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, we are experiencing GROWTH!

Many places in Texas are!

But here, the local Leaders, want it to go to their Amigos South of that Arroyo!

No creo Yo!

Hey Snow-Birds! You ENGLISH Speaking Educated Beautiful Snow-Birds!

C'mon Down!

Bueno Comida Aqui!

Y Mas trabajo!

That's "Great Food", and "Lots of Work"!

Once we get the REVERSE Discrimination STOPPED!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 9, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"We Can't Afford to Wait!" Yeah, we know, it's a Catastrophe! We are going "Off a cliff!" Dark, darker, darkest. Mortal danger of absolute collapse. Armageddon.

We heard you, and we only want the crucial JOBS and GROWTH parts passed. Not PISS CHRIST.

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I've already said my piece on Elkhart:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/02/06/obamas_first_stop_on_economic.html

$50 million for the NEA won't "create jobs, help families or turn our economy around." It would be better to dump $50 million into the Pacific Ocean.

Posted by: JakeD | February 9, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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