February 13th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

The Stimulus Bill, the Plane Crash and us..

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Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The efforts by President Obama and Congress to rescue the economy have been book-ended by two major, heart-wrenching events that have the power to pull people together. And I'm not talking about House and Senate votes.

I'm talking about plane crashes. One of which, the "Miracle on the Hudson" on Jan. 16, wasn't actually a crash, but a "ditching," but only because of Sully's cool-headed landing skills.

I've covered a number of plane crashes, talked with family members of passengers who've died, and survived, and people in neighborhoods who might've been killed, but instead have been awed by the horror that fell near them. I've talked with pilots and investigators and seen a few things you don't really want to see.

And I've noticed one effect of a plane crash on many people is a pulling together. People often realize for a few hours, or days or years, what it's all about. People open up to others, they talk about their feelings, they think about what's really important to them. Some have told me they see things in a different way, with more heart, a deeper feel for pain and joy, or for other human beings.

Later, of course, they, and we, have to go back to our lives, families, work, and the grindstone. But for those who've been affected, plane crashes can give a sort of lasting broader awareness of ourselves and others, and even a greater sense of community. Sometimes.

Has that happened in this country today?

On Jan. 16, we were dazzled that all 155 people survived when Flight 1549 lost all power and landed safely in the Hudson River in a way that none of us have ever seen.

In a prophetic coincidence, most of them stood shin-deep on the plane's wings, making it look like they were standing on water.

And last night, in what should have been a routine landing, 50 people died when Flight 3407 crashed into a house, brought down, many suspect, by a build-up of ice. A man died in the house struck by the plane. Amazingly, a mother and child survived, though they were hospitalized.

Did you hear the interview with Chris Kausner, whose sister had been on the plane, and when he told his parents, he said, "I heard my mother make a sound that I have never heard before." "Right now," Kausner said, "I'm thinking the worst and I'm thinking about the fact that my mother has to fly home from Florida and thinking about what I'm going to tell my two sons. That's what I'm thinking."

So what are we thinking?

At his inauguration, President Obama called on Americans to pull together. "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord," he said. "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

Well, we have legislation to stimulate the economy, but only because one party has a majority. Despite calls for bipartisanship, neither side can agree. Even within the political parties, members don't agree.

So tonight, we'll report what we can on these two stories - the conflicting efforts to stimulate the economy, and what happened to the plane which - and the people who - crashed into a house outside Buffalo.

Have these two plane crashes, or this economic crisis, or this historic election helped us to begin to pull together? And if not, is there anything short of an even bigger disaster that could?

Or maybe we'll just keep playing out our Realpolitik.

soundoff (65 Responses)

    I felt so sad to hear, that the 9/11 widow, that was instrumental in getting the investigation, died

    February 16, 2009 at 7:03 am |
  2. Vince

    I am furious that the "Home buyer tax credit the senate changed to include all home buyers got reverted back to "first time home buyers" only. My wife purchased her home before we got married 5 years ago—I have never purchased a home, my name isnt even included on the deed on this tiny house. We have been married for 2 years and I am disqualified because of that. We are just about to close on our new home, and we shall now be penalized for a silly and unfair technicality. We are not wealthy the home she purchase on her own is very inexpensive and small. We saved got approved when everyone else cant and now have to watch others get a hand out. Maybe I'm just upset (obviously) but this doesn't seem fair, or very American. Why cant it be a tax credit for all or no one, or at least pro-rated.

    February 16, 2009 at 5:34 am |
  3. NB


    Maybe I missed your coverage, but I do not believe I have seen any coverage by CNN on the HVCC (Home Valuation Code of Conduct). Given the "mortgage meltdown" and the current state of the economy, it would seem like a topic that should have been followed and given national coverage for quite some time now. Have I missed CNN's coverage of this? Please feature it on CNN TV before it goes into effect. It is something the public should know about (from the perspective of all sides involved).

    Thank you,


    February 16, 2009 at 3:23 am |
  4. Jeremy

    I think we should build a natral gas pipelines, then we could swith are cars,homes,gas stations,over then put a 20 cent tax on gas that would encourage everyone to swith there personal cars over, and it would put millons back to work in all kinds of industry's we could then take 10 cents of tax put towards social securty and dont let those pollations get there hands on it. take the other 10 cents put towards the upkeep of our roads. that would be a better stimulas plan than we have now.

    February 16, 2009 at 2:53 am |
  5. Michelle

    I just can't understand how the Republicans STILL don't “get it”. The American public voted a majority of democrats into Congress so that we could get our elected president Obama's desired legislation PASSED. The Republicans complain that Obama isn't encouraging bipartisanship when he made a huge effort to bring them onboard. THEY are the ones who refused to work with the democrats to pass that legislation. Maybe the Stimulus package isn't perfect but the Republicans did not offer a better alternative. My message to all of them....get onboard for "real" change or you also will be voted out of office in the next election.
    There is a MAJORITY Democratic house for a reason. Next election there will be a filibuster proof Senate as well.

    February 16, 2009 at 2:29 am |
  6. Diane B

    I have heard all sides of this elections and it is a pitiful shame that there has been more press about the politics of it then remembering that we are all in the same country. John McCain needs to realize he lost. Give it up. Obama has tried to bring the republicans in but they refuse because they think it will make the democrats look bad, but what is is really doing to all the people I have talked to is making them realize that the republicans still have not figured out that the American voters already voted them OUT! The republicans are embarrassing themselves by having people act as if other people can not think for themselves. The whole notion that the Stimulus will provide more problems for our children is a JOKE. Don't that realize the the Problem is already a BEAR and President Obama is trying to fix the MESS they put us in. At this point, they played around with 2 billion or 20 billion trying to cut it out and reality is it does not really matter. We are in debt 11 trillion+ and now they are all of a sudden worried about one or two billion. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. To get out of this mess we should have spent 1 TRILLION and we should not have blinked an eye. Yes, I was republican, but they are trying to hard to get a democratic society to think the way they do. It is not going to happen know matter how loud they cry because now they are starting to look silly. Shame on them. Let focus on getting the country back on track and stop all this political NONSENSE. I am now a PROUD independent VOTER. Thank goodness I can think for myself and the news and public can't do it for me, nor would I allow that! Those who are playing the blame game is riduculas, because when the checks are paid out, I would almost bet you are not handing yours back for some Great American Cause.... Think about it. You benefit like everyone else so stop the nonsense!

    February 16, 2009 at 12:19 am |
  7. Sharon Baker

    CNN....Have you sold out to FOX! I enjoyed watching you during the primaries, elections and inauguration activities. After the lights went out and the Presidency began you changed lanes on me. The fair reporting that I had become attracted to has gone away. President Obama has been in the Office less than 45 days and you have already called his Presidency. I am not alone in my perception that you are no longer a cut above the rest. Many people who are like me, who grew to appreciate your somewhat unbias reporting have noticed your change. Whatever the opposition is offering in objection to the Simulus Package becomes your news headlines. We as a nation are in the most crucial time of the century and yet instead of presenting the positive aspects of the stiumuls bill you rather embellish on what the opposition is stating is the negative aspects of the bill. Yes, you have different view points represented buy you always shape the story to reflect that you also are not in favor of the Stimulus Package. What your commentators say is pork may not be pork and what they say is wasteful spending may not be. We do not know and we will not know until after we try something for a relevent period of time before you will know. You allowed the opposition to run your program headlines. I have listened to your morning and afternoon reporters and as they report there is no balance. I am quite sure they could have looked at the package and found some positive points. I am not asking for you to tell me what would be nice to hear I am asking that you get some balance in your reporting. You have yet to report in as much detail how the stimulus package could help the economy and the people. The President already told us that it was not going to be easy to fix, it would cost, it would not be perfect, there may be mistakes, but we had to do something. While the opposition rather debate on how to put the fire out, the fire keeps burning. At least President Obama has the guts to pour water on the fire. It may smolder a bit, but eventually it will go out. Me and others are back to surfing the networks for quality unbias reporting.

    Respectfully Submitted
    Sharon Baker
    Louisville, KY

    February 15, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  8. Joseph V

    It sure looks like all we have been getting out of Obama ,so far, is rhetorical BS and symbolism. He must spend many thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to fly to Colorado to sign a "stimulation package" because it symbolically snubs Washington. Isn't that immature, expensive, and hypocritical behavior? Obama had been critical of the Auto Executives for the same type of behavior?

    February 15, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  9. tlc

    It is no wonder our great nation is in such dire straights. How can we begin to fix our challenges when our politicians act like spoiled rotten children! Please remember that our President has inherited the problems that we face from the previous administration . He is not the almighty nor can he fix the situation over night. But to fight him tooth and nail at a time when we need to be united is harmful to this country and our future generations. Grow up ladies and gentlemen and be part of the solution.

    February 15, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  10. C.C.

    In case the Republicans didn't know...the country is in a crisis!
    Old things have passed away and all things are become new!
    You had eight years to come up with good ideals and prevent the country from going into an economic tailspin. So now you want us to believe that you have all the answers. Get Real! The reason why so many people voted For President Obama is because we need a change; not the same old, ideological, divisive tones that stagnated progress in the past administration. Unless you make real changes and stop insulting the intelligence of the american people you will loose again in 2012. Here's an ideal "Get on Board and let's get our country moving. My prayers are for the success of the new President and administration.

    February 15, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  11. Daryl K.

    Having followed the current coverage surrounding the Stimulus Package and the growing proliferation of the unemployed, one area that has remained unchanged and will significantly impact the ability to reach those in need; red tape.
    For decades the "system" (unemployment, assistance, welfare, etc..) has evolved into a monolithic mess that attempts to impose limits and make it difficult to those who would abuse the system. This though, severely hampers the ability of those to use the system that should be for them. Try filing for unemployment or assistance and see how difficult it is to really get help.
    We need to revisit what a person has to do versus what they should be required to do get help in a time of need.

    February 15, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  12. Rita in Mississippi

    The GOP looks just plain FOOLISH whining and claiming that our President is off to a bad start. They're all going to whine themselves right ouf of office. The sooner the better!

    February 15, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  13. IVO

    A lot has transpired since President Obama's victory – ours.
    I believe that the President may not have achieved his alleged goal of bi-partisanship; however, it will be naive to think that he did not expect a forceful opposition from the GOP. This Stimulus bill seems to be clearly an opportunity to root out some bad influences in the GOP. With the President's time constraint, even the GOP can understand that there is work to do, but not on their schedule.
    I support the President's vision, but most importantly that the dream is best achieved with teamwork. The GOP – 8 yrs belated, did their part for the team (hold back) and the rest won the bill for us all.
    God bless America.

    Birmingham, AL

    February 15, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  14. Robin Sprague

    I resent seeing John McCain and other GOP reps on TV- hearing Mc Cain saying Obama broke his promise to the American people to be bipartisan.
    It seems clear they are using all of Obama's outreach against him. McCain and the GOP are insisting on parts of their failed economic platform. We, the people did not vote for this. When McCain is televised saying these things I believe the media should point out that Obama can only do so much. If he submits to the policies he campaigned against, he would be disappointing the American even more. McCain needs to stop campaigning. I believe the GOP is going to continue to promote this idea that Obama is letting us down unless the media continually points out that he is in, fact, promoting his agenda to the best of his ability.

    February 15, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  15. Morena Noyes

    I cannot believe the Republicans! Now that they are a minority, they want bipartisan approval for all the bills that get passed. When they ruled, they did not seem to have the same concern. There were three Republican congresspeople trying very hard to get a deal in the stimulus package. What did they get? Threats from the right o retaliation if they supported the package. Is that democracy? Just a bunch of spoil children that are mad if they don't get it their way. What are the great suggestions that they had to contribute to the package? Only criticism but no one single proposal that had any substance. Their whole approach is only to demand lower taxes. Well, we had those with Bush and what did it get us? This is not the time for lower taxes. It is not the time to be helping their CEO buddies. It will be a great thing to replace them in two years.

    February 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
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