JUDY WOODRUFF: As the president made that plea, just up Pennsylvania Avenue, House members debated the bill's size and scale, but not before Democrats agreed to strip out a few items, including one in Congress's front yard, $200 million to re-sod the National Mall.
And not before Republicans questioned how much the plan would actually boost the economy. Georgia's Jack Kingston cited recent examples of government outlays to question whether the current plan will have an impact.
REP. JACK KINGSTON, R-Ga.: ... $200 billion for Fannie Mae bailout, $85 billion for AIG bailout, $700 billion for the TARP, the Wall Street bailout. If this kind of spending worked, we would be in great shape in our economy right now, but we keep throwing more and more money on the problem.
JUDY WOODRUFF: California's David Dreier said the bill lacked the right tax provisions to do what's needed.
REP. DAVID DREIER, R-Calif.: We're all feeling the pain of this economic downturn. The question is, what action will we take? Are we going to put into place a bill that is 627 pages long -- $1.18 billion for every single page of that bill -- with spending that will go beyond the next 10 years as we seek to immediately jump-start our economy?
Or are we going to do what so many economists from both sides of the aisle have indicated we need to do: put into place strong, growth-oriented tax cuts that can provide the fast-acting jump-start that we all seek? That's the choice that we have here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina said tax cuts were not the silver bullet to the economic crisis.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: I have listened intently to the opponents of this legislation. And per their usual prescription, they tell us that only tax cuts can cure this recession.
But, Mr. Speaker, what good is a tax cut when you don't have a job? America works when Americans work.
Our package is balanced. It has middle-class tax cuts; it has business tax cuts; it has investments in our physical infrastructure. It is the right mix of spending and tax breaks to get America working again.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And the chair of the Appropriations Committee, David Obey, said the size of the bill equaled the severity of the problem.
REP. DAVID OBEY, chair, Appropriations Committee: The fact is that we need to compare the cost of this package with the cost of doing nothing. The cost of doing nothing would be catastrophic; the cost of this package is well worth the risk, considering the alternative.