Obama Campaigns for Economic Package as Vote Nears



U.S. President Barack Obama is making a last-minute appeal to members of Congress to back his plan to stimulate the struggling American economy.  Mr. Obama says he is confident the measure will pass.

With a vote in the House of Representatives just hours away, the president brought the heads of some of America's largest corporations to the White House to show their support for the stimulus package.

He said they are aware of the seriousness of the economic challenges facing the United States, and they are looking to Washington for action.

"They understand that when it comes to rebuilding our economy, we do not have a moment to spare," he said.

Mr. Obama spoke in the White House East Room, flanked by two of the chief executives who attended the closed-door meeting - Sam Palmisano of IBM and David Cote of Honeywell.

Cote said the situation is dire.

"No company is immune.  Everybody is being touched by this," he added.

The president said everyone must share responsibility for getting America back on a sound economic track.  He said corporate leaders know they must be more responsible and they are looking to Washington for leadership.

"They understand that what makes an idea sound is not whether it is Democratic or Republican, but whether it makes good economic sense for their workers and companies," said the president. 

Appealing to the Republicans

Mr. Obama has been actively courting support for the bill from congressional Republicans.  But at least in the House, they are lining up against the stimulus package.

Florida Republican Harold Rodgers is a senior member of the House committee responsible for spending legislation.  He said the package before Congress is not a stimulus plan, but a rampant spending spree.

"Much of which has nothing to do with bailing out a sagging economy, but with a liberal litany of left-leaning government programs," he complained.

The $825 billion package is a combination of new government spending and tax cuts.  Much of the money will be targeted at programs to repair infrastructure, build schools, promote alternative energy and help provide health care for families hard hit by the economic slowdown. 

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