Barack Obama travels to Capitol Hill to sell his stimulus plan

Barack Obama spent part of Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill, trying to sell his economic stimulus plan to House and Senate Republicans,

It was a tough sell.  Before the presidential visit, House Republicans held a closed door meeting where Minority Leader John Boehner told members they should vote against the measure in its current form because it contained too much wasteful spending.

Welcoming GOP ideas

During his visit, Obama said he would “continue to welcome good ideas” from the Republicans.  But reports from within the meeting with House members said Obama refused Republican requests to have more of the $825 billion economic rescue package be made up of tax cuts.

After the session, Obama said “I don’t expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope we can put politics aside.”

Minority Leader Boehner said members of his party “enjoyed the conversation." 

"I think the president enjoyed the conversation.  And I look forward to continue to work with him to improve the package in the coming days," Boehner said.

We're more transparent

Before Obama had left the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office put out a news release arguing that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had been crafted in a process that was “far more open, inclusive, and transparent” than past practice.  A House vote on the measure is slated for Wednesday evening.

Drifting Democrats

The odds for bipartisan approval do not look strong in the Senate either. Committee action on the measure is expected to begin there Wednesday.  On NBC’s Today program Tuesday morning, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the Democratic party “seems to be drifting away from what [Obama] said he wanted which is a package that is at least 40 percent tax cuts and earmark free.”

On Monday night, thirty Senate Republicans voted not to confirm Timothy Geithner to be Obama’s Treasury Secretary.  Also voting no were 3 Democrats and one independent.

A many legged stool

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, the president called the stimulus plan “just one leg in a multi-legged stool” to revive the economy.  Obama also said “much better financial regulation” was needed as well as steps to get credit flowing again, measures to deal with troubled assets that banks hold, and improved coordination with other countries on the global financial crisis.

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