Arizona politicians greet Obama's arrival - East Valley Tribune: News

Arizona politicians greet Obama's arrival

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Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 5:21 pm | Updated: 12:27 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Air Force One glided over the Superstition Mountains and safely into Sky Harbor International Airport on Tuesday afternoon. Before a battery of television cameras, President Barack Obama jogged down the steps to the tarmac shortly after 4:30 p.m.

SLIDESHOW: President Obama lands at Sky Harbor

Air Force One glided over the Superstition Mountains and safely into Sky Harbor International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

SLIDESHOW: President Obama lands at Sky Harbor

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Before a battery of television cameras, President Barack Obama jogged down the steps to the tarmac shortly after 4:30 p.m. Smiling broadly, the president chatted with his welcome delegation, which included Gov. Jan Brewer, U.S. Reps. Harry Mitchell and Ed Pastor, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and some of their family members.

The conversation was brief. Obama's motorcade - a series of five black limousines and SUVs - sped off just five minutes after the president deboarded his plane. Obama didn't discuss business with the delegation that had gathered to meet him.

"He was just saying how happy he is to be here," Mitchell said, adding that Obama noted the warm weather.

Gordon gave Obama an autographed shoe, size 23, from Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal.

This is Obama's first presidential visit to Arizona, where he is expected to address 500 to 600 people about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday at Mesa's Dobson High School.

President George W. Bush repeatedly visited the Valley to celebrate local businesses and colleges as national models for innovation. Obama's first trip as chief executive won't be so jovial.

The president plans to spotlight Mesa's economic turmoil as an example of the home mortgage crisis imperiling the global economy. Foreclosure numbers continue to rocket across Mesa, and other parts of the East Valley.

Just how Obama intends to address this crisis remains unknown.

The $700 billion bank bailout that Bush authorized last year included about $50 billion to help calm the mortgage crisis. Obama's plan, which he'll announce today, will likely use those dollars and possibly billions more.

The plan Obama outlines is not expected to mandate massive changes to stop defaulting mortgages. Rather, it is likely to be a set of incentives designed to entice lenders to modify loans.

The sweeping measures are expected to funnel government payments to mortgage companies, which will use that money to reduce borrowers' interest rates and therefore their monthly payments, according to several people briefed on the plan.

The guidelines of how the government would determine who would qualify were not clear Tuesday night. But the plan was expected to try to bring borrowers' monthly payments down to around 30 percent of their pretax pay.

If lenders don't participate, they are likely to face something they have long opposed: the gavel of a bankruptcy court judge. Obama is expected to endorse changing the law to allow bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of a borrower's mortgage.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to comment on the administration's plans on Tuesday, other than to say that the housing crisis is "a problem that not only affects the individual homeowner and their family, but oftentimes has a direct impact to home values in the neighborhood."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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