Will all this economic stimulus be stimulating?

Frustrated by his failure to achieve bipartisan consensus on the stimulus bill, President Barack Obama is selling his economic policy directly to the people.

Obama clearly is hoping to tap into his unprecedented popularity to push his agenda at a time when the U.S. faces its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The president made his case yesterday in Elckart, Indiana, a town whose unemployment rate has more than tripled this year. Observers say he made his point effectively.

"He mobilized an army of people in the American heartland who cheered at scripted applause lines with the ways of Washington as an all-purpose villain," Bloomberg News said.

Bloomberg also reports that economists estimate that the House version of the $800 billion stimulus package will create about 600,000 more jobs than the Senate version. The Senate bill provides bigger tax breaks, along with more money for school construction, early education and aid to local governments. Remember, Obama has pledged to save or create four million new jobs.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is set to unveil the administration's plan to spend the second half of the $350 billion federal buyout. The New York Times reports that the Treasury Secretary beat back efforts from his colleagues to impose tough restrictions on banks about how they could spend their rescue money and how much they can pay their executives.

Though economists may quibble over the details, most agree that without significant spending, the U.S. economy will head into a tailspin.
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