Muckraker: Grist on Politics

President Obama had some firm words for critics of his economic stimulus plan in his first presidential news conference on Monday night, using some of his most forceful comments to defend the green energy investments in the plan.

“Why would that be a waste of federal money?” asked Obama. “We’re creating jobs immediately by weatherizing homes … and we’re saving money for taxpayers $2 billion when it comes to federal buildings.”

“We can have a respectful debate about whether or not we should be involved in energy policy, but don’t call it wasteful spending,” he continued.

Obama also talked up the need for energy investments in his opening remarks. “More than 90 percent of the jobs created by this plan will be in the private sector. These will not be make-work jobs, but jobs doing the work that America desperately needs done — jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and repairing our dangerously deficient dams and levees so that we don’t face another Katrina,” he said. “They will be jobs building the wind turbines and solar panels and fuel-efficient cars that will lower our dependence on foreign oil.”

The Senate overcame a procedural hurdle on Monday evening for its version of a stimulus plan, approving cloture by a vote of 61-36. Final passage is expected tomorrow. Obama has said he wants to sign a final bill by the end of the week, before Congress is slated to go on Presidents’ Day Recess.