Back at Work, Obama Pitches His Stimulus Plan
By Philip Rucker
CHICAGO -- Fresh off his Hawaiian vacation, President-elect Barack Obama is pressing his case for a massive economic stimulus plan, saying Saturday morning that a recovery program to create three million new jobs would "serve as a down payment on our long-term economic future."
In his weekly radio and YouTube address, Obama offered few details of his plan, but said it would double U.S. renewable energy production, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, update and computerize the health care system and modernize classrooms, science laboratories and libraries.
The president-elect also said the new administration will provide "direct tax relief" to 95 percent of American workers. Obama's aides have said he is considering immediate tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals as part of the massive economic recovery plan.
Obama, who is moving to Washington on Sunday, is scheduled to meet with leaders in Congress early next week to hash out the stimulus plan, which Obama's aides have said could cost between $675 billion and $775 billion.
"These are America's problems, and we must come together as Americans to meet them with the urgency this moment demands," Obama said. "Economists from across the political spectrum agree that if we don't act swiftly and boldly, we could see a much deeper economic downturn that could lead to double digit unemployment and the American Dream slipping further and further out of reach."
Obama noted that nearly two million Americans have lost their jobs in the past year and that many more are laboring for less pay and fewer benefits. He said it is necessary for the federal government to make "strategic investments" in the nation's economic future, and said he wants more than 80 percent of the three million new jobs to be in the private sector.
"We must demand vigorous oversight and strict accountability for achieving results," Obama said. "And we must restore fiscal responsibility and make the tough choices so that as the economy recovers, the deficit starts to come down."
Obama wants to put the finishing touches on the stimulus plan quickly so it can be signed into law soon after his Jan. 20 inauguration. But the proposal must first pass Congress, where Republican leaders have said they want time to scrutinize the plan.
In Saturday's address, Obama sought to frame his stimulus package as a bipartisan proposal.
"However we got here, the problems we face today are not Democratic problems or Republican problems," Obama said. "The dreams of putting a child through college, or staying in your home, or retiring with dignity and security know no boundaries of party or ideology."
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