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Almost everybody has a reaction to Obama bill signing

February 17, 2009 |  2:38 pm

Statement by President Barack Obama at signing of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

Today I have signed into law H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  The act provides a direct fiscal boost to help lift our nation from the greatest economic crisis in our lifetimes and lay the foundation for further growth. This recovery plan will help to save or create as many as 3 to 4 million jobs by the end of 2010, the vast majority of them in the private sector.

It will make the most significant investment in America's roads, bridges, mass transit and other infrastructure since the construction of the interstate highway system. It will make investments to foster reform in education, double renewable energy while fostering efficiency in the use of our energy, and improve quality while bringing down costs in healthcare.  Middle-class families will get tax cuts and the most vulnerable will get the largest increase in assistance in decades.

The situation we face could not be more serious.  We have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression.  Economists from across the spectrum have warned that failure to act quickly would lead to the disappearance of millions of more jobs and national unemployment rates that could be in the double digits. 

President Barack Obama's signature on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act February 17, 2009

I want to thank the Congress for coming together around this hard-fought compromise.  No one policy or program will solve the challenges we face right now, nor will this crisis recede in a short period of time.  However, with this act we begin the process of restoring the economy and making America a stronger and more prosperous nation.

My administration will initiate new, far-reaching measures to help ensure that every dollar spent in this historic legislation is spent wisely and for its intended purpose. The federal government will be held to new standards of transparency and accountability. 

The legislation includes no earmarks.  An oversight board will be charged with monitoring our progress as part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste and inefficiency.  This board will be advised by experts -- not just government experts, not just politicians, but also citizens with years of expertise in management, economics and accounting.

So much depends on what we do at this moment.  This is not about the future of my administration.  This effort is about the future of our families and communities, our economy and our country.  We are going to move forward carefully and transparently and as effectively as possible because so much is on the line. That is what we have already begun to do -- drafting this plan with a level of openness for which the American people have asked and that this situation demands.  ###

Global stock markets react to the bill signing -- not well:

Stock markets around the world tumbled today amid deepening concern over the health of the banking industry and doubts about the ability of governments to spur a recovery.

The major U.S. indexes dropped more than 3.5% with the Dow Jones industrial average sinking almost 300 points and coming within a whisker of its late November low.

Statement by Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee:

Americans looking for jobs and struggling to pay bills will be disappointed by the spending package written by congressional Democrats and signed by President Obama today. The transparency and ...

... bipartisanship that President Obama promised the American people was sacrificed to pass a pork-laden bill without any public review or meaningful Republican support.

In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats work together to create new jobs and grow the economy.  Instead, congressional Democrats worked behind closed doors to write legislation that will fall short of creating the promised new jobs, but will guarantee a larger debt burden on our children and grandchildren.

Republicans are unified in our disagreement with congressional Democrat leaders and President Obama on this bill.  It all comes down to this: The Democrat plan focuses on putting Americans on the public dole, while the Republican plan focuses on putting America back to work.

The Republican Party stands ready to work together in a bipartisan manner with the Democrat leaders in Congress and the president.  Hopefully they will learn from the mistakes in this bill and be interested in true bipartisan efforts in the future.  ###

Now, a shocker.  Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, newly appointed by Obama as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also supports Obama's signing:

By signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act today, President Obama took the first step toward keeping his promise to pass a responsible plan that saves or creates 4 millions jobs, provides tax relief for hard-working American families, and invests in our long-term economic future.

At a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs each month, President Obama called on our leaders in Washington to come together to find practical solutions that prevent this economic crisis from deteriorating even further.

I applaud those who answered that call by putting partisanship aside to pass a bill that provides the practical solutions America’s working families need, expect and deserve. But this is only the beginning. Moving forward, we need more leaders in Washington to follow their example as we continue the hard work of getting our economy back on track.  ###

Statement by Republican House leader John Boehner:

Our nation is in recession, and responsible action is required to help our economy protect and create jobs.  This isn’t it.

The flawed bill the president will sign today is a missed opportunity, one for which our children and grandchildren will pay a hefty price.  It’s a raw deal for American families, providing just $1.10 per day in relief for workers while saddling every family with $9,400 in added debt to pay for special-interest programs and pork-barrel projects.  It will do little to create jobs, and will do more harm than good to middle-class families and our economy.

In response to the president’s request for input, Republicans offered a better solution that would create twice as many jobs at half the cost.  Instead of delivering a responsible, transparent, bipartisan bill to create jobs, jobs, jobs, the Democratic Congress produced a trillion-dollar, special-interest, pork-laden, partisan backroom deal that will do little to get our economy back on track. 

Upon his election, President Obama expressed a desire to govern from the center and to be a president for all Americans.  I have cautioned that the president’s party would not always make it easy for him to meet this goal.  Sadly, this proved to be the case with the economic recovery legislation.  Despite this missed opportunity, Republicans stand ready to work with the president for better solutions to the challenges facing our country.  We can do better, and we must.  ###

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Photo credit: Larry Downing / Reuters

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