Associated Press
February 4, 2009

WASHINGTON – Republicans tried to push back against the ballooning size of President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan Wednesday, even as he warned that the financial crisis will turn into “a catastrophe” if the bill isn’t passed quickly.

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Obama summoned centrist senators to the White House Wednesday afternoon to discuss a plan to cut more than $50 billion in spending from the measure, which breached the $900 billion barrier in the Senate on Tuesday and appears headed higher.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, as well as Ben Nelson, D-Neb., have tentatively agreed to cutting more than $50 billion from the bill, a Nelson spokesman said, though details weren’t yet available.

Their effort is central to building at least some bipartisan support for the bill, which has come under increasing attack for too much spending unrelated to jolting the economy right away.

Obama indicated he’s amenable to changes.

“No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger,” Obama said at the White House Wednesday. “Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the essential. Let’s show people all over our country who are looking for leadership in this difficult time that we are equal to the task.”

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