Obama Stimulus Vital to Avoid Recession, Calmes Claims

New York Times White House correspondent Jackie Calmes just can't stop hyping Obama's big-spending 'stimulus plans,' even as the proposals die in Congress. The front-page headline from her July 20 story captures her typical cheerleading tone: 'Bipartisan Plan For Budget Deal Buoys President – House Republicans Face Intensifying Pressure to Avoid Isolation.' (That prediction didn't quite pan out.)

Monday morning brings another promotional Calmes story riding under the hopeful headline, 'Jobs Plan Stalled, Obama to Try New Economic Drive.'

With his jobs plan stymied in Congress by Republican opposition, President Obama on Monday will begin a series of executive-branch actions to confront housing, education and other economic problems over the coming months, heralded by a new mantra: 'We can't wait' for lawmakers to act.

According to an administration official, Mr. Obama will kick off his new offensive in Las Vegas, ground zero of the housing bust, by promoting new rules for federally guaranteed mortgages so that more homeowners, those with little or no equity in their homes, can refinance and avert foreclosure.

(One of those executive-branch actions got a glowing report on the top of Wednesday's National section – Obama to the rescue! 'President to Ease Student Loan Burden for Low-Income Graduates.')

Polls show overwhelming support for pieces of the $447 billion package, which includes expanded tax cuts for workers and employers, and spending for infrastructure projects and for state aid to keep teachers and emergency responders at work. But Republicans oppose provisions in Mr. Obama's plan that would offset the costs with higher taxes on the wealthy.

Should the bill ultimately fail, Democrats believe they at least have the better political argument, and they vow to exploit what they call the Republicans' obstruction in the 2012 campaign.

Yet any political benefit would be small consolation for the White House, given the forecasts of nonpartisan economists that without such a stimulus plan, the economy is likely to relapse into recession next year just as the president faces re-election.