Axelrod on Economy: We Have to 'Do Something Big'

Key Democrats says Obama needs "pretty big" economic stimulus package.

ByABC News
November 23, 2008, 12:27 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2008— -- As President-elect Barack Obama continues to push Congress for a wide-ranging economic stimulus package to be ready on his desk by Inauguration Day, questions remain surrounding the price tag of such a plan.

This morning, incoming White House senior adviser David Axelrod suggested Obama would push for a much larger package than the $175 billion stimulus he put forth on the campaign trail.

"He wants a plan big enough to deal with the large challenges we face. And I think there's a growing consensus across the spectrum among economists that we're going to have to do something big," Axelrod said in a "This Week" interview with George Stephanopoulos.

"We need to start digging our way out of this hole here or climbing our way out of this hole and stop digging, and that is our objective and that is what we are going to do," said Axelrod.

But Axelrod declined to comment on the cost. "I'm not going to throw a figure out here," he said.

In a separate interview, however, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the Joint Economic Committee chairman, priced the stimulus package between $500 billion and $700 billion. "I believe we need a pretty big package, here. ... I think it has to be deep. My view has to be between $500 and $700 billion. And that's because our economy's in serious, serious trouble," he said.

In response, ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Schumer's stimulus number was too high. "That's a lot of money," he explained. "One thing, we'd better be careful about not just throwing money, borrowing a lot of money and throwing it at deal and creating no jobs to speak of."

But Shelby also reiterated the importance of jump-starting the economy. "What we need is to really get the economy going. And we'll -- I think it's fair to say that we Republicans will look at the details and see if we can support it. I want to support things that are meaningful for the economy."

On Saturday, the president-elect announced an ambitious tax and spending plan. "I have already directed my economic team to come up with an economic recovery plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 -- a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office," Obama announced in his radio address.