Traveling up and down the Northeast Corridor recently reminded me of yet another stark contrast between New York City and Washington DC (where I have the privilege of residing).
At New York cocktail parties, you hear what people -- including campaign donors, hopeful Obama fans, mollified Clintonites, and well read know-it-alls -- hope the new Administration will do about the economy. At holiday parties here in DC, you find out what Obama & Co. will do.
The emerging picture: FDR Redux. To prevent the "R" word now reluctantly acknowledged by almost former President Bush -- recession -- from becoming a terrifying "D" word, the Obama Administration will pull out all the stops and spend, spend, spend on public works projects.
I had a chance, over tart home-made Cosmopolitans in a warm DC home, to wrest a little info from one of the hundreds of ex-Carter and ex-Clinton officials who are working as volunteers -- yes, truly unpaid for 11 weeks -- for the Obama Transition. This man is actually going to work every day at the Office of Management and Budget, finding a gratifying degree of graciousness and cooperation from current White House officials, to shadow and question and propose and plan for the new realities that begin January 20.
I asked if Peter Orszag, who is shifting over from the Congressional Budget Office to be head of OMB under Obama, is focused on ways of slashing the federal deficit -- in the spirit of the President-elect's statement that his economic team will go through the federal budget "line by line" to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary programs. No, I was told, the intensive work right now is on "stimulus" -- whether and how to spend as much as $1 trillion to create jobs and get cash into the limping economy.
Democrats have an astoundingly ambitious goal: to see the 111th Congress, convening for the first time on January 6, pass history's most expensive stimulus package within two weeks. They literally want the bill to appear on Obama's new desk at the very moment he moves into the Oval Office.
The President-elect (speaking to Tom Brokaw on Tom's last Meet the Press) clarified his aim as "the largest infrastructure program in roads and bridges" in half a century. Other investments he named: "rebuilding our schools and making sure that they're energy-efficient, making sure that we're investing in electronic medical records and other technologies that can drive down health care costs."
Since the New York crowd likes to look for winning stocks, especially at a glum time of huge paper and actual losses, we can expect some "hot stock" recommendations in the areas tipped by our next President: construction, alternative energies, heat insulation, and electronic record keeping for hospitals and public health agencies.
Dan Raviv is the National Correspondent for Radio and host of the CBS News Weekend Roundup.