The plan weighs in at a little more than half the size of the $830 billion economic stimulus plus approved in 2009. While Democrats and some economists say the stimulus saved the economy from further collapse, it did not return the unemployment rate to its pre-recession lows.

"It's a net positive to the economy, at least in the short term," Basu said. "But $447 billion really can't do that much to alter the trajectory of a $15 trillion economy."

Kenneth Kelm, principal officer of the Baltimore-based Teamsters Local 311, said that money for school, highway and airport construction would "open up some jobs here locally."

But he added that the new spending Obama is seeking is likely to be the most controversial part of the plan on Capitol Hill.

Kelm's union local has about 2,000 members, including some who haul heavy equipment and other material for construction.

"The whole thing is going to come down to politics," Kelm predicted.

Michael Galiazzo, executive director at the Regional Manufacturing Institute, a trade association, said he wishes Obama had put more emphasis on reviving the nation's lagging manufacturing sector.

But he said the tax reductions and regulation changes Obama discussed are a step in the right direction for business generally.

"It's an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to agree on some strategies that might help small and medium-sized companies be more competitive," he said. "There's a lot at stake here."