- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2009

President Obama’s chief spokesman said Sunday that he expects the economy to get worse before it gets better but that a massive economic stimulus package passed by Congress two days ago is crucial for its recovery.

“I think it’s safe to say that things have not yet bottomed out … but this is a big step forward toward making that improvement and putting people back to work,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama will sign the bill into law Tuesday while in Denver.

Despite the president’s efforts for a bipartisan measure, Congress on Friday passed the $787 billion spending and tax package with no Republican support in the House and only three GOP senators voting yes.

Mr. Gibbs downplayed the lack of widespread Republican cooperation, saying that the Democratic president will continue to reach out to the other party in Congress.

“We hope that Republicans will decide they want to reach back,” he said. “We understand that nothing is going to get done in this country to improve the lives of the American people if the parties in Washington continue the same old game and continue to fight.”

The administration and Capitol Hill Democrats predict the measure will preserve or create 3 million to 4 million jobs and stem the tide of the worst financial crisis on Wall Street since the Great Depression.

Mr. Gibbs countered Republican accusations that the package won’t do enough to spur the economy in the short term, saying that president is “focused on making sure that that money gets out the door very quickly.”