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Panel on Obama's Stimulus Package

Panel on Obama's Stimulus Package

Special Report With Bret Baier - January 16, 2009

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm asking Congress to work with me day and night to get the plan passed. That's why I'm calling on all Americans to put a sense of common purpose above the same narrow partisanship. We've experimented and we've innovated, and when we failed, we picked ourselves up and we tried again. I know that if we can summon that determination and that great American spirit once again, we will meet the challenges of our time and we will build a better future for our children. I ask all of you to join me in making that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well the first clip there was an ad by the Americans United for Progress. The second from President-elect Obama today in suburban Cleveland at a factory that makes bolts for wind turbines, pushing his economic stimulus package, $825 billion of it.

What about this campaign-style atmosphere before the inauguration? Some analytical observations from Juan Williams, senior correspondent of National Public Radio, Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of "Fortune" magazine and syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all. Juan, it did feel like a campaign stop today.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Without a doubt and he's on a campaign trail that extends from the primary effort during the campaign season last year and I think will extend well into his years in the White House. He is convinced that his greatest power is as an orator, but also as a figure who can go out there and get the American people to put pressure on Congress here in Washington.

And you know, if you think about it, I think this is part of what he did in winning approval for the second part of the TARP, the effort to get that 350. He said to the Democrats unless you want to be blamed, you're in power -- unless you want to be blamed, you got to give me that money. The money came to him. I think he is doing the same thing now as he campaigns for the stimulus package.

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: He knows that speed is on his side. As Juan mentioned, we saw that with the release of the TARP funds to the Senate. I think we're going to see it next week when his Treasury secretary nominee, Tim Geithner sails through despite all these concerns about his taxes. And I think there is a couple of reasons for this.

One is that he has got momentum going with the inauguration, and his huge popularity ratings. But the other thing he has going for him on the economic side is fear. This country is gripped in fear about the direction of this nation, and if he can move his agenda quickly and continue to make the case that we need this to rescue the country, there's less time for Republicans to pick it apart, and point out, you know, pork, and point out these programs that we may not need. It's hard for them to get a loud enough voice if he just goes through there like a bulldozer.

BAIER: Charles, it is pretty unprecedented just days before the inauguration.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It is quite unusual because, I mean, the kind of thing he does, which is to go and to gin up support for legislation in Congress, which you're trying to get through, is not unusual. You get a popular Reagan or a Clinton who does that, but they're already in office.

What's happened here is that the schedule has all been compressed. Because he wanted to get that stimulus out there, essentially on the day he is sworn in, everything started earlier.

He feels as Nina said, speed is of the essence. There is a sense if you're going to have a stimulus, you can argue about whether you should have one or not, but if you are going to have it, you want to have it now as the downward spiral is accelerating. You want to stop that. So everything has been advanced. Essentially he has been in charge of domestic affairs for about a month. He has left the foreign policy stuff to Bush. But this is simply the kind of trip you would expect the week after election happening early because he is a young man in a hurry.

BAIER: You know Nina, today he pushed green jobs, saying it is really important, but as you look at the legislation as it is proposed, the $825 billion, just $8 billion is for green jobs, loans, guarantees for renewable energy, so it's only 1 percent of the campaign stop, at least today's.

EASTERN: Well there is others. There is an expensive piece of it is support for the poor, food stamps and so forth. That's something that's going to be a piece of it no matter what. The green jobs, all of this raises the question, I think, of how you're going to even spend it wisely. By even putting that in this bill, I think he puts himself in the position of picking winners and losers and creating somewhat of an industrial policy. It's smaller than a lot of people thought, but it's still -- it still puts him in that position of picking winning and losing industries.

WILLIAMS: What's interesting to me is that over the course now, of this lead up to the presidency, the people that he has been bulldozing are not Republicans. He has been bulldozing Democrats. The reason is that Democrats will say, you know, more of this money should be spent to help people who are going to be in foreclosure. We need greater accountability. We need more money for this and that and we certainly need more job creation. And he's saying listen, give me the money. It is going to be on my terms. You may not have been happy with what Paulson did, I will make sure it goes smoothly. And so far, he is getting a free pass. This is incredible.

BAIER: Last word, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: He is asking for a lot of money to be spent on faith in him. He has that. We will see where he stands in six months.

Special Report With Bret Baier

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