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Obama signs massive stimulus bill

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Calling it "the beginning of the end" of the nation's economic travails, President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus spending bill into law Tuesday afternoon in Denver.

"We have begun the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time," Mr. Obama said, adding that he'll soon take action to curb home foreclosures and to stabilize the financial system.

And the giant spending might not be through, either. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters traveling with Mr. Obama that another stimulus spending bill is not out of the question, though there are no specific plans right now.

"The president is going to do whatever he thinks is necessary to get our economy moving again," Mr. Gibbs said.

Mr. Obama said he used 10 different pens to sign the bill -- essentially writing little more than one letter per pen. Pens used for major bills are keepsakes given to key aides and lawmakers involved in the process, and the high number of pens showed just how many people had a hand in delivering Mr. Obama's first major piece of legislation in his young administration.

But passing the bill may have been the easy part. Now Mr. Obama and his administration must manage the biggest one-time infusion of cash in the nation's history.

As he signed the bill, Mr. Obama asked voters to help track how the money is being spent by using recovery.gov, a new Web site that will display spending details.

"Instead of politicians doling out money behind closed doors, the important decisions about where taxpayer dollars are invested will be yours to scrutinize," Mr. Obama said in a video announcing the opening of the site.

Mr. Obama said his plan will create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, and his new Web site lists the number of jobs expected to be created in each state, with California's nearly 400,000 new or preserved jobs topping the list.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity before the site went live, said they have studied other watchdog Web sites such as USASpending.gov, Grants.gov and nongovernmental ShovelWatch.org for inspiration.

"The site is the tip of the iceberg for the effort that will go into taking spending tracking and accountability to the next level," the official said. "It's clear we don't have all the answers, but we're trying to think about how we can develop programs that provide accessibility and transparency."

Mr. Obama said the site will grow and develop as the spending ramps up.

Staff writer Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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