Local lawmakers preview Obama's speech

February 24, 2009 4:53:57 PM PST
The president will lie out just how bad things are: millions of jobs lost, businesses closed and homes dark in foreclosure.

It's something lawmakers I spoke with saw for themselves as they spent last week in their districts.

"People are worried. They're worried the economic security they thought they had is evaporating before their eyes," said Rep. Patrick Murphy, (D) Pennsylvania.

Indeed the president will spend a lot of time focused on pocketbook issues. He'll explain the global nature of the crisis, as Asia and Europe mirror and deepen our market suffering.

He'll also talk about increasing government involvement in major banks like Citibank, defend his stimulus and mortgage packages, and lay out his ambitious promise to slash the deficit in half by 2013.

"I think it is important to set that table, it's also important now hear here's how we're going to get the car out of the ditch," said Sen. Robert Casey, (D) Pennyslvania.

"The news of the last few weeks has been down. The economy has been down. His speeches have sort of been down and I think their needs to be a sense of hope and a sense of inspiration," said Rep. Mike Castle, (R) Delaware.

In fact the most hopeful part of the president's speech is expected to be about America's role on the world stage and domestic issues like health care, social security, and education.

"Without good health you can't do anything. Without good education you can't do much and then deal with the problem of energy in this country and make free of OPEC oil and then handle global warming. Those are some of the big issues we'll be looking forward to," said Sen. Arlen Specter, (R) Pennsylvania.

But even with his charm, the president will face a tough waltz with Republicans. Do not expect their support on this week's vote on Mr. Obama's mortgage plans or his future budget. And they also say if he wants their help, the president needs to talk bi-partisanship with Democrats.

"His real challenge is really with the democratic leadership and getting them to allow Republicans to participate in the work product," said Rep. Jim Gerlach, (R) Pennsylvania.

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