By Jim Kuhnhenn
WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama is laying the groundwork for a giant economic stimulus package, possibly $850 billion over two years, in his first test of legislative give and take with Congress.
Obama's economic advisers are assembling a recovery plan and reaching out to members of Congress and their staffs. Obama aides cautioned that they have not settled on a specific grand total. But they noted that economists from across the political spectrum have recommended spending similar or even larger amounts to jolt the worsening economy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., this week said Democrats were preparing their own recovery bill in the range of $600 billion, blending immediate steps to counter the slumping economy with longer-term federal spending that encompasses Obama's plan.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that Obama has indicated that Congress will get his recovery recommendations by the first of the year.
"He's going to get that to us very quickly, and so we would hope within the first 10 days to two weeks that he's in office, that is after Jan. 20, that we could pass the stimulus plan," Reid said. "We want to do it very quickly."Obama's aides have said they hope to work with Republicans in writing the bill, particularly in the Senate, where the GOP could slow action if it chooses to.
Obama is promoting a recovery plan that would feature spending on roads and other infrastructure projects, making government buildings energy-efficient, building and renovating schools and adopting environmentally friendly technologies.