Stimulus plan not economic quick fix

By Stephen Ohlemacher

WASHINGTON – The White House warned Sunday that the country could face a long and painful financial recovery, even with major government intervention to stimulate the economy and save financial institutions.

“We’re off and running, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Vice President Joe Biden, taking the lead on a theme echoed by other Democratic officials on Sunday talk shows.

At the end of the Obama administration’s first week, the party in power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue sought to lower expectations for a quick fix despite legislation expected to pass by next month that would pump billions of dollars into the economy. Democrats also opened the door for even more government aid to struggling banks beyond the $700 billion bailout already in the pipeline.

Congress has given President Barack Obama permission to spend the second $350 billion of a Wall Street bailout package even though lawmakers have criticized the Bush administration for the way it spent the first half. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she is open to additional government rescue money for banks and financial institutions. But she said taxpayers must get an ownership stake in return.

Biden said Obama’s choice for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, will recommend whether more money is needed for the banks. Geithner could be confirmed by the Senate as early as Monday.

Congress is working on an $825 billion economic recovery package that dedicates about two-thirds to new government spending and the rest to tax cuts.

Separate proposals making their way through the House and Senate would combine tax cuts for individuals and businesses, help for cash-strapped state governments, aid for the poor and unemployed and direct spending by the federal government.

The goal is to infuse money directly into the economy in the hope of bringing the nation out of recession, while creating 3 million to 4 million jobs.

It would be the largest economic recovery package ever enacted; the White House says the scope rivals the construction of the interstate highway system after World War II.