Obama's Next Task: Tackling Housing Woes

WASHINGTON — President Obama focuses on home foreclosures this week as part of a broad White House effort to shore up the economy with massive government spending to put people back to work, bail out troubled banks and help homeowners pay their mortgages.

Details of the new plan, due Wednesday, come just days after Congress passed a $787 billion stimulus bill aimed at saving or creating up to 3.5 million jobs.

"We're faced with an economic emergency here, and we're going to have to move forward quickly on a number of things," Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "We can't drag our feet."

The White House says the housing plan includes spending more than $50 billion to reduce mortgage payments and stall further home foreclosures.

"We're prepared to do what is necessary," Lawrence Summers, director of Obama's National Economic Council, told Bloomberg Television on Saturday. "Going directly at the problem means addressing affordability by addressing payments."

Obama will release the plan Wednesday in Phoenix.

"We obviously have a major problem — problems with foreclosure, problems with people living on the edge and problems with home values around the country just plummeting," Axelrod said. "We want to do something that will address all of those things."

At the same time, the White House sought to lower expectations about how quickly the stimulus bill — which will be signed by Obama on Tuesday in Denver — will help heal the economy.

"It's not going to be an overnight turnaround," Axelrod said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also cautioned against impatience. "I think it's safe to say that things have not yet bottomed out," he told CNN's State of the Union. "They are probably going to get worse before they improve."

The bill includes sharp new limits on pay and bonuses for corporate executives whose companies receive government aid. Only three Republicans voted for the bill in the Senate, while no GOP representatives voted for the plan in the House. Seven House Democrats, including three first elected in November, also voted against the bill Friday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who opposed the bill, said Sunday that it will leave the next generation with a crushing debt. "There are things in this bill that make the public want to throw up," he said on ABC's This Week. "They know it doesn't create a job. It just creates more government."

Obama returns to Washington today after a long weekend at home in Chicago with his family. On Thursday, he takes his first foreign trip as president, traveling to the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

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