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Obama appeals to public to back his economic plans

Urges Americans to build support for $3.6t budget

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg NewsAt a town hall meeting in California yesterday, President Obama said he will rebuild the sputtering economy. Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg NewsAt a town hall meeting in California yesterday, President Obama said he will rebuild the sputtering economy. (Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg News)
Globe Staff And Associated Press / March 19, 2009
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President Obama headed back out on the road yesterday to sell his economic plans, and urged his huge grassroots army to help him push through his sweeping budget.

In a video sent yesterday to an email list of nearly 14 million people who voted for him in November, Obama urged Americans to canvass their neighborhoods this weekend to build support for his $3.6 trillion budget, which he says will "lay a foundation for lasting growth and prosperity" by investing in healthcare, education, and renewable energy.

"Passing this budget won't be easy," Obama says in the video. "I'm asking you to head outside this Saturday to knock on some doors, talk to some neighbors, and let them know how important this budget is to our future."

The president also implored supporters to write letters and make phone calls to Congress, where his ambitious spending blueprint has run into criticism from both Republicans and fellow Democrats.

Later yesterday, Obama hosted a town hall meeting in Orange County, in southern California, where he acknowledged the public outrage over AIG's payment of $165 million in executive bonuses and said he is "absolutely committed" to preventing another AIG situation, "where taxpayers are on the hook for losses in bad times and all the wealth generated in good times goes to those at the very top."

Obama quickly broadened his pitch to his budget and other proposals that he said will rebuild an economy "that rewards hard work and responsibility, not high-flying finance schemes; an economy that is built on a strong foundation, but not one that's propelled by overheated housing markets and maxed-out credit cards."

"We are not only going to make it through this crisis," he told the crowd in Costa Mesa. "We are going to come out the other side a stronger and more prosperous nation."

Obama portrayed himself as an elected official helping average Americans battle entrenched interests from Washington and Wall Street regardless of the political cost. When a woman asked if he plans to seek reelection in 2012, Obama replied: "If I could get done what I think needs to get done in four years, even if it meant that I was only president for four years, I would rather be a good president to take on the tough issues for four years than a mediocre president for eight years."

Tonight Obama is to make what NBC says is the first late-night talk show appearance by a sitting president when he goes on comedian Jay Leno's show.

And under increasing criticism for his economic proposals and his approval rating dropping, Obama will hold his second prime-time, nationally televised news conference on Tuesday, the White House announced yesterday. Obama held his first prime-time press conference Feb. 9.

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