Politics

Obama Travels to Denver to Sign Stimulus Bill Into Law

The White House is already fighting back against critics of President Obama's massive economic stimulus bill,  launching a Web site -- www.recovery.gov -- at the same time the president signs the spending and tax-cut bill into law in Denver on Tuesday.

The Web site is supposed to help the curious find out how federal dollars are being spent, the pace of scheduled construction projects and whether any federal dollars are being wasted.

It's clear from a quick glance at the site that the president wants to grab the reins of public sentiment and steer it his way. One section proclaims: "This is your money. You have a right to know where it's going and how it's being spent. Learn what steps we're taking to ensure you can track our progress every step of the way."

In keeping with the president's past pronouncements of being a fully transparent and accessible White House, a public feedback section has also been included.

The White House will release data Tuesday on the economic stimulus bill that touts its financial and economic benefits on a state-by-state basis and aggregates benefits for each congressional district as it tries to prove the $787 billion bill will produce national economic gains.

The administration wanted a full-dress signing event in Denver, site of the Democratic National Convention that nominated Obama, to highlight the bill's potential to fund "green jobs." But the president's critics have attacked him for urging Congress to rush the bill through by Presidents Day, and then waiting through the three-day holiday weekend to sign it.

The White House explained that it waited until Tuesday because the bill wasn't delivered in its enrolled form by the Clerk of the House until midday Monday.

A relentless storm of economic bad news and public pessimism has raged through the first month of Obama's presidency. He now must take vigorous steps to prop up the country's deeply troubled financial system, ease the pain of Americans facing home mortgage foreclosures and save the teetering auto industry.

Two of America's Big Three automakers, General Motors Corp. and Chrysler, now kept afloat on a combined $13.4 billion in federal emergency loans, were to report on Tuesday their plans for reorganizing toward long-term survival.

Obama has turned to appearances throughout the country to sell his economic plans, hoping to sustain support and foster hope among Americans who are giving him high marks in opinion polls. The president's travels pointedly contrast public backing for his economic plan to the partisan atmosphere still consuming Washington, where Republicans were nearly unanimous in opposing the stimulus measure.

Obama will sign the stimulus bill into law at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, underscoring investments the spending plan will make in the "green" energy-related jobs.

On Wednesday he moves to Arizona for the unveiling of a program to help millions of homeowners fend off home mortgage foreclosures.

Tuesday's signing of the massive stimulus measure was designed to start the flow of federal money nationwide toward infrastructure projects, health care, renewable energy development and conservation with twin goals of short-term job creation and longer-term economic healing.

The measure includes a $400 tax break for most individual workers and $800 for couples, including those who do not earn enough to pay income taxes. Consumers will receive tax incentives to buy first homes and new cars.

States will receive tens of billions of dollars to prevent state job losses and budget deficits. Poor people and laid-off workers will benefit from increased unemployment and food benefits and subsides for health insurance.  

Part of Obama's message is designed to lower expectations. He has said frequently that he expects the economy to get worse before it gets better. 

Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said over the long holiday weekend that "things have not yet bottomed out. ... But this is a big step forward toward making that improvement and putting people back to work." 

The unemployment rate is now at 7.6 percent, the highest in more than 16 years. Analysts warn the economy will remain feeble through 2009, though one or two bright spots have emerged of late, including reports of healthy car sales over the Presidents Day weekend and a stronger-than-expected retail report for January..

Republican lawmakers, who largely balked at the economic package, complained that it was short on cutting taxes and that the spending measures didn't target the vast sums of money well enough toward short-term job creation, which was the major goal of the bill.

Many private economists are forecasting that the budget deficit for the current year will hit $1.6 trillion, including the stimulus spending. That's about three times last year's shortfall, and such year-to-year deficits contribute toward a mounting national debt. 

Congress has not passed its annual omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2009, which likely would not include the costs of keeping troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Obama administration said it would be weeks, not months before it announces its plan to move U.S. troops to Iraq. 

Defense officials have said as many as 30,000 troops could be sent to the Central Asian nation but Obama is weighing suggestions on revising U.S. goals for the nation, which could impact the number sent.  

FOX News' Major Garrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.