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Obama Wants Economic Stimulus Passed Soon

U.S. President Barack Obama says the country's economic crisis demands that Congress act soon on his economic stimulus plan. Mr. Obama met Friday with top Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the White House.

As the meeting began, President Obama acknowledged that some Republicans on Capitol Hill dislike parts of his economic stimulus proposal, estimated at $825 billion.

"I know that it is a heavy lift to do something as substantial as we're doing right now," he said. "I recognize that there are still some differences around the table and between the administration and members of Congress about particular details on the plan."

But the president said the severity of the nation's economic problem requires quick action.

"What I think unifies this group is a recognition that we are experiencing a unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with, and dealt with rapidly," he said.

Mr. Obama has said he wants Congress to pass an economic stimulus plan by mid-February. He and the lawmakers at the meeting all indicated that they believe that goal will be met.

Afterward, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader John Boehner, said the meeting went well, and that Mr. Obama had listened to the Republicans' concerns, especially about the version of the bill being debated in the House.

"It does not spend out very quickly. It is almost too late," he said. "And we have concerns about the size of the package."

The Senate is considering economic stimulus proposals totaling $755 billion. The Senate plan would include tax cuts for individuals and businesses, bonus payments for most retirees, tax credits to help pay for college, and tax breaks to promote renewable energy.

The Senate's top Democrat, Majority Leader Harry Reid, said everyone at the meeting understood the urgency of the situation.

"There was not a single member of Congress, or anyone in that room, that did not agree that we have an economic problem in the country, lots of economic difficulties," he said. "But at the conclusion of the meeting, there was not a single person who felt we could not work our way out of the problems we had."

Mr. Obama also said Friday that any legislation governing the use of an additional $350 billion in financial industry bailout money must include new measures to ensure accountability and transparency.