Obama Pitches Stimulus Plan in Indiana

Posted February 9, 2009 at 12:33pm

President Barack Obama took his pitch for the stimulus bill on the road Monday, demanding during a “town hall” meeting in Elkhart, Ind., that Congress move the legislation swiftly to his desk.

Obama, who appeared energized to be back in campaign mode, suggested that though the bill could be better, its passage is vital for economic recovery. “Now I’m not going to tell you that this bill is perfect,” he said. “But it is the right size, the right scope, and has the right priorities to create jobs that will jump-start our economy and transform it for the 21st century.”

Unlike former President George W. Bush, whose aides carefully screened his audiences, the crowd Obama faced was not tested for their loyalty — according to Obama — and the president indeed faced some skeptical questions.

Responding to one woman who wanted to know about presidential nominees who had failed to pay their taxes, Obama said such problems were “honest mistakes.” But he indicated that he himself had erred by picking them because it sent a message that there are two different “sets of rules” for the powerful and for average people.

Last week, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) withdrew his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary and Nancy Killefer bowed out as the nominee to be the government’s chief performance officer, both because of tax problems. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also failed to pay some of his taxes, but he was confirmed for his post.

Obama said he would propose an initiative, opposed by many Republicans, to allow judges to alter the terms of loans of those in bankruptcy. However, he said the provision would not be included in the financial system overhaul plan to be offered by Geithner on Tuesday.

Obama also said he would seek to restore funding in the stimulus for education that was deleted by the Senate in the legislation it approved last week.