Though his inauguration is still almost two weeks away, President-elect Barack Obama is wasting no time in trying to reverse the economic troubles plaguing the nation. That eagerness to address the vexing and far-reaching difficulties is as important as it is encouraging, and Obama's swift action in putting together a plan and working with Congress - which convened Tuesday - to set its passage in motion even before he moves into the White House provides some of the reassurance the nation needs.
Obama has crafted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, currently estimated to cost $775 billion, that combines job creation with tax breaks to businesses and individuals, funding for struggling state programs, infrastructure projects and a range of other investments designed to pump life into the floundering economy. That menu does not come cheaply, though, either in cash or political capital, and Obama's energy in drafting such a comprehensive plan and winning sufficient congressional support is a testimony to his commitment to taking decisive leadership at a crucial time. That he has said that the bill he signs must be devoid of any earmarks demonstrates a commitment to keeping the process clean. It will be a challenge, to be sure.
The final package Congress delivers to Obama's desk - now likely to be after he's been sitting there a few days, despite hopes the measure would be waiting for him Jan. 20 - will certainly bear the mark of its journey through both houses. Obama's leadership in keeping the economic stimulus package on course through that process will be telling. Already he has shown encouraging attentiveness and determination in jumping on this critical matter.