Obama Launches Western Road Trip to Sell Budget

Posted March 19, 2009 at 5:00pm

President Barack Obama on Thursday hit the road to press his case for his budget blueprint, hosting a “town hall— meeting in Los Angeles where he urged his supporters to get behind his proposals.

“I want everybody who was paying attention during the campaign to be as interested— now, Obama said, telling the hugely supportive crowd to watch the debate in Washington, D.C., and respond.

Obama, who is making a swing through California before returning to Washington late tonight, sought to enlist grass-roots allies for what he clearly indicated would be a campaign by moneyed opponents to sink his plans. The new president has come under fire in recent days for the $165 million in executive bonuses paid by bailed out insurer American International Group, and he also has run into mighty headwinds over his budget proposal.

Obama noted that “someone’s not going to be happy— about losing subsidies under his proposals, and he warned they would place ads against initiatives such as his energy plan.

Obama at one point appeared to try to dampen the huge expectations that many have for him, saying that people should not expect him to achieve everything he is setting out to do. Instead, he said they should say: “He may not have gotten everything perfect, but we are moving in the right direction.—

The president also continued his theme of optimism, begun after Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus bill last month. “There will be brighter days ahead,— he intoned. But Obama was careful not to suggest that improvements would occur quickly, predicting that “over the next couple of years, we will have started moving again — building back up.—

Obama touched only briefly on the AIG issue, saying he was “outraged— by the company’s provision of large bonuses to executives even as it received federal help, and he suggested that the culture that allowed the move needs to be changed.

Obama also said he expected within the next two weeks to sign a “national service bill— that would allow greater participation in federal volunteer programs.

The president also noted that the crowd had not be pre-screened, but there did not seem to be many opponents who showed up. “Mr. President, thank God for you,— one man said. Another offered up a relative for a White House domestic policy position.