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Obama Faces Doubters On Economic Plan

The frenetic energy of President Obama's first week has run into a wall of Republican doubters.

Mr. Obama met with congressional allies - and opponents - of his $850 billion stimulus package on Friday. Critics say the plan is too expensive and won't kick-start jobs or industry fast enough.

He reminded them that every delay hurts.

"What I think unifies this group is a recognition that we are experiencing an unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with, and dealt with rapidly," he said.

Republican critics said that, while he reminded them that "he won," they reminded him that he needs their help to get a deal done by mid-February.

Their objections had already kept it from happening the day he took office.

"He said he looked forward to signing the stimulus package [as soon as he was sworn in], and we all know that didn't happen," said former Bush aide and CBS News analyst Dan Bartlett.

Fixing the economy quickly remains number one on his agenda. He met his economic team Wednesday, and will do so every day. The president will also go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, to try to change some minds, reports CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has been pushing ahead on just about every other aspect of his agenda.

On Wednesday, his first full day, he met with his top defense staff to talk about how to get combat troops out of Iraq in the next 16 months. And he called a host of foreign leaders.

He also signed orders tightening ethics rules for government employees and lobbying.

"It's not about advancing yourself, it's not about advancing your friends or corporate clients," he said. "The American people are really counting on us."

On Thursday he ordered the military prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and he banned harsh interrogation methods.

"We can abide by a rule that says we don't torture," he said, rejecting the Bush-Cheney administration's assertion that such harsh interrogation techniques had prevented terrorist attacks on the United States and should not be banned.

And for two of the most intractable foreign policy problems he will face, he appointed top troubleshooters: George Mitchell, to tackle the Mideast peace process, and Richard Holbrooke, who will focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

By week's end, President Obama even stepped into the abortion debate, despite loud demonstrations against abortion during this week's anniversary of Roe v. Wade. He quietly signed a decree late Friday afternoon that ended the Bush White House's ban on federal funds to international family planning groups that perform the procedure or even refer women to others that do.

"As a new White House gets off the ground, you want to see if they have a general playbook in place, showing the confidence of a new administration by firing off action items: they've done that," Bartlett told Dozier. "They're signing executive orders, putting new policies in place, fulfilling some of the things he said he was going to do.

"From a standpoint of demonstrating that they're hitting the ground running, I would give them high marks."

Bartlett noted that, coming off a long and grueling campaign, many of the key people in the new administration are "not starting this job with a full tank; they're lucky to have maybe half a tank right now."

"Now they're being asked to deal with these very vexing problems, so they are in many respects running on adrenaline," he told Dozier.

"Many of the people they have chosen or surrounded themselves with have previous White House experience, or at least high-ranking administration experience, from the Clinton administration. So this is not their first time around the block and I think that will prove very helpful to the new president in the early days."

But Bartlett predicted that as Mr. Obama begins governing, the campaign promises will seem harder to achieve. "The realities of the job are going to take over as well," he said. "What you'll see is the rhetoric will start being amped down, and expectations trying to be managed because it's a complex job."

Bartlett also noted that Mr. Obama's choice of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, given his experience as a key Democratic power broker in the House, is telling: "I think he recognizes that in his administration, in his early days, that some of his biggest challenges may actually come from his own party."

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