Obama Signs Stimulus To Jump Start Economic Recovery

The president is, of course, a student of history. Obama has praised the way President Ronald Reagan was able to make America feel good again, and Obama's aides say he has been guided in recent weeks by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Obama is said to admire FDR's fireside chats for his ability to explain problems so the average American could understand them and feel confident a solution was coming. When writing his speeches, FDR would think of a workplace where one man was painting a ceiling, another fixing a car and a third sat at a cash register, and he would purposefully try to tailor the speech to those citizens.

Obama reads some of the e-mails sent to the White House from struggling Americans, which aides say helps him focus on the nature of the problems.

Still, Brinkley said Obama may have a ways to go in his pitch before he can credibly claim the oratorical mantle of FDR.

"It needs to be packaged a little bit better so it's just not an argument of what company should we bail out," Brinkley said.

'Cutting Back the Cutbacks'

Economists are assessing when and where the average American will start to see the money.

As early as March, states will receive $150 billion to prevent layoffs of policemen, firemen, teachers and other jobs.

"Those positive effects are already happening," Krugman said. "States which were planning really savage cutbacks in their employment, in their construction projects and so on, are cutting back the cutbacks. And so we're seeing that the job losses, though they're still going to happen, are not going to be as bad as they were. States are already taking that into account. So the stimulus started working before it began."

Next the country could see another $180 billion for roads, school and mass transit projects, through local projects such as repairing bridges and schools.

"It won't really start until the summer, and, at the peak, will come much later than that," Krugman said. "The thing about infrastructure is that it takes time."

In June, individual taxpayers will also see an additional $13 dollars per week in their paychecks.

"Basically everybody's going to be getting a small but persistent tax break, so add it all up and it ends up being a pretty significant thing," Krugman said.

Another $8 billion is allocated for creating a system of high-speed passenger trains. Added in the 11th hour, it is the largest single piece of infrastructure spending in the bill.

The stimulus also gives Education Secretary Arne Duncan $100 billion to spend.

On Sunday, White House senior advisor David Axelrod said the stimulus would have an immediate impact on the economy.

"All over the country you're going to see shovels in the ground," Axelrod said on "Fox News Sunday." "You're going to see construction projects underway. The other thing you're going to see are people not being laid off -- police and firefighters and teachers -- because states now are going to have funding to forestall those kinds of things. So I think you'll see an effect of it, but in terms of the overall economy we're in the worst recession since World War II and it's going to take -- it took us a long time to get into this mess -- and it's going to take us a while to get out of it."

Obama, too, said in his weekly radio address that the economic stimulus package is just the first step.

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