With the Senate primed to vote on its version of the economic stimulus package as soon as tonight, President Obama is stepping up his sales pitch to put public pressure on lawmakers to approve it.
UPDATE: The White House announced this afternoon that Obama will hold a press conference in primetime at 8 p.m. Monday.
In two appearances on Wednesday, he warned of catastrophe if the plan isn't passed soon and hit back against critics of the plan, arguing that their solutions were rejected in November by voters who put him in office.
He fleshed out his case in an op-ed piece published today in The Washington Post.
In the opinion piece, which was also distributed today by the White House, the president writes that "each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse."
At an appearance at the Energy Department this afternoon, Obama said the debate over the stimulus plan is no abstract exercise. Citing new numbers out today that new unemployment claims totaled 626,000 in the last week of January, he said the numbers and the American people are demanding action.
While the bill has received the proper scrutiny over the past few weeks, "the time for talk is over," he declared. "The time for action is now."
Obama hit back again at those who are calling for tax cuts rather than government spending to stoke the economy.
"Those ideas have been tested and they have failed," he said.
And as Obama turns up the heat on Republicans, they are responding by complaining that the bipartisanship Obama promised to bring to Washington is sorely lacking in the debate on the stimulus plan.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally and friend of GOP presidential candidate John McCain, took to the Senate floor to make his point.
"If this the solution to George Bush's problems," Graham said, the way Democrats are pushing the stimulus will make matters worse.
"If this is the change we can believe in, America's best days are behind her," he added.
Organizing for America, the new vehicle for Obama's campaign apparatus, is also trying to build public support.
It sent backers a video of Obama's television interviews on Tuesday, when he explained the need for the stimulus plan, and is organizing house parties this weekend.
"You can help make sure the American people have all the facts so they can support this crucial effort to boost our struggling economy," campaign manager David Plouffe told supporters. "The President is leading. Help is on the way."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.