Barack Obama transformed political campaigns by creating a grassroots network of 13 million people. Can they be mobilized to help accomplish Obama's agenda? The effort begins this weekend, and we get a preview of what could be a sea change in the way that America is governed. Also, the Senate works on the stimulus bill as the economy sheds jobs, and with unemployment on the rise, states are cutting welfare.
FROM THIS EPISODE
The US lost almost 600,000 jobs last month, and unemployment rose to 7.6% of the labor force, the highest level in 16 years. With the Senate still debating the stimulus bill, President Obama used the numbers to call for action, and called it "inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual while millions of Americans are being put out of work." Gail Russell Chaddock reports on Congress for the Christian Science Monitor.
To demand action from Congress — on healthcare, energy independence and the stimulus package — the President's using the bully pulpit. That's business as usual. But Obama's extraordinary campaign apparatus may give him a new kind of political weapon. With e-mail, social networking sites and text messaging, he can directly reach some 13 million Americans who supported his presidential campaign. The call has gone out for neighborhood meetings this weekend to discuss his agenda and how to get it approved on Capitol Hill. Will the "online army" that transformed campaigning change government too? What's the risk of backlash from Congress and from the "army" itself?
Jim Rutenberg, New York Times (@jimrutenberg)
Roy Oldenkamp, Obama supporter, West Hollywood, CA
Stacy Deck, Volunteer, Organizing for America
Brian Faughnan, Writer, Redstate.com
Adam Green, Co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee
President Bill Clinton signed a law he promised would "change welfare as we know it," partly with new emphasis on putting people to work. The idea was that, in times of crisis, states would still get families back on the rolls. But it's not working out that way. "Despite soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis in decades, 18 states cut their welfare rolls last year." That was a lead sentence this week in the New York Times. Jason DeParle wrote the story.
Jason DeParle, New York Times