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Obama Signs Economic Stimulus Package Into Law

February 17, 2009 at 6:00 PM EDT
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President Barack Obama signed the landmark $787 billion economic stimulus package Tuesday. Kwame Holman reports on the president's latest efforts to communicate his economic plans in visits to cities around the country.

JIM LEHRER: President Obama signed the huge stimulus bill into law today. The sweeping economic measure is designed to create millions of jobs and get consumers spending again.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has our lead story report.

KWAME HOLMAN: The president traded Washington for Denver to celebrate the signature accomplishment of his first month in office.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: And just as President Kennedy sparked an explosion of innovation when he said America’s sights on the moon, I hope this investment will ignite our imagination once more, spurring new discoveries and breakthroughs in science and in medicine, in energy to make our economy stronger and our nation more secure and our planet safer for our children.

Obama signs $787 billion bill

KWAME HOLMAN: Mr. Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus plan at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The setting highlighted new spending for the creation of so-called green jobs.

All told, about $50 billion goes toward renewable energy programs. There's also $54 billion to help states plug their budget gaps, plus $48 billion for transportation projects.

The White House today put up a new Web site,, to let people track the spending, which accounts for 64 percent of the total bill.

Presidential aides also released breakdowns on how many jobs each state and congressional district can hope to gain.

BARACK OBAMA: With a recovery package of this size comes a responsibility to assure every taxpayer that we are being careful with the money they worked so hard to earn. And that's why I'm assigning a team of managers to ensure that the precious dollars we've invested are being spent wisely and well.

We're going to hold governors and local officials who receive the money to the same high standard. And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results.

Bill includes broad tax credit

KWAME HOLMAN: The tax side of the bill accounts for just more than a third of the cost. The major feature is the president's "Make Work Pay" credit, $400 for individuals and $800 for couples.

BARACK OBAMA: It's the product of broad consultation and the recipient of broad support from business leaders, unions, public interest groups, from the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as the AFL-CIO, from Democrats and Republicans, mayors, as well as governors.

It's a rare thing in Washington for people with such diverse and different viewpoints to come together and support the same bill.

Another stimulus not ruled out

KWAME HOLMAN: In fact, the stimulus relied almost entirely on Democratic votes. And today, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele warned it will "fall short of creating the promised new jobs, but will guarantee a larger debt burden for generations to come."

In the meantime, the president rolls out a plan tomorrow to halt home foreclosures. And White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would not rule out another stimulus, if need be.

The overall effect on the federal deficit will come into sharper focus next Thursday. That's when President Obama releases his first budget outline.