Faced with an economy in tailspin and a recent federal report predicting a $1.2 trillion budget deficit in 2009, President-elect Barack Obama unveiled more details about his economic stimulus at George Mason University yesterday.

Dubbed the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan,” it pledges to invest heavily in infrastructure upgrades nationwide, including improvements to bridges, roads and mass transportation, dramatically expand alternative energy research spending and modernize Medicare and Medicaid.

The plan hopes to create 3 million new jobs and provide direct tax relief to 95 percent of American workers. It also hopes to double of renewable energy production.

The economic stimulus package will focus heavily on reinvestment in infrastructure, government programs and health and social services at a state level, which could help relieve some of Michigan’s economic hardships.

Rep. Mark Schauer, a first-term Democrat from Battle Creek, has pledged to support the economic recovery package.

“As we invest in rebuilding our economy, Michigan needs to receive special help,” Schauer said in an interview yesterday, adding that such help would need to include “tax relief for middle-class families.”

A member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Schauer said he is dedicated to taking a hands-on approach to promoting alternative energy initiatives and tackling infrastructure improvements both nationwide and in Michigan.

Schauer said these initiatives will be essential for the survival of the Detroit automakers, all reeling from reported declines of more than 30 percent in sales for the month of December. Chrysler was hardest hit by the economic downturn, with its December sales plummeting 53 percent compared to figures from the same month last year.

In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier this week, Schauer outlined his goals for the economic stimulus package and the changes it will bring to the American economy.

“No state has been hit harder by the economic crisis than Michigan,” Schauer said in the letter, “and instead of waiting for more bridges to collapse, or for home heating and fuel costs to climb back to record highs, we can make a down payment on long-term job growth and sustain our natural resources for future generations.”

The proposed package will likely cost the federal government between $675 and $775 billion to implement, according to the Obama transition team and Democratic Party leaders in Congress.

At an American Economic Association meeting in San Francisco, leading economists, including Peter Gottschalk, a labor economics professor at Boston College, spoke in support of an economic bailout that is centered on large-scale government spending and reinvestment in infrastructure nationwide.

A draft of the bill hasn’t yet been put before Congress, and despite earlier hopes that an economic recovery package could be passed by both houses before Obama’s inauguration, leaders of both political parties doubt if that goal is feasible.

During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) didn’t give a clear timetable for the passage of a stimulus package.

Democratic party leaders, including Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), are confident that an economic recovery package of some kind will be drafted and approved by Feb. 16.

One issue that may stall the plan is Obama’s scramble to find someone to serve as secretary of commerce. Obama’s initial pick for the position, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, withdrew his name from consideration last week due to an ethics investigation into business conducted by the state of New Mexico when he was governor.

Richardson has denied any wrongdoing in the case but withdrew because the investigation would delay his confirmation hearings.

In addition to complicating Obama’s plan to get an economic stimulus package up and running as quickly as possible, the scramble to find a replacement may allow Congressional Republicans the time to build a stronger coalition against the stimulus package.

There has already been strong opposition to large-cale, federally funded infrastructure improvements by Republicans in the House and Senate, even those plans which would leave the spending of federal funds up to the discretion of state and local governments.

However, in his speech yesterday Obama responded to these concerns, saying that while the cost of his plan will be “considerable,” the consequences of doing nothing “will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes and confidence in our economy.”

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