By Kent Klein
03 January 2009
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is calling on Congress to move quickly on his economic stimulus plan. But some Republicans want more time to study the details.
The incoming president says lawmakers should pass his American Recovery and Reinvestment plan, which he hopes will create three million jobs. Aides say the program could cost as much as $775 billion, but Mr. Obama says American families need help now.
"For too many families, this new year brings new unease and uncertainty, as bills pile up, debts continue to mount, and parents worry that their children will not have the same opportunity they had," he said.
Mr. Obama made the comments in an address recorded Friday, then distributed on radio and posted on YouTube Saturday.
He plans to meet Monday with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The president-elect also expects to meet with opposition Republican leaders in Congress in the coming week.
Mr. Obama's aides had hoped to have an economic plan approved by the House and Senate before the new president takes office on January 20. But some Republicans have urged a delay to review the plan, and the legislation is not likely to pass before Inauguration Day. Mr. Obama says there is an urgent need for action.
"Economists from across the political spectrum agree that if we do not 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," he said.
In his Saturday address, Mr. Obama made an effort not to blame his predecessor, President George Bush for the country's economic problems, which he said "are not Democratic problems or Republican problems." And he tried to reassure hesitant Republican lawmakers that his administration would keep a close eye on how the money is spent.
"We must demand vigorous oversight and strict accountability for achieving results, and we must restore fiscal responsibility and make the tough choices, so that as the economy recovers, the deficit starts to come down," said Mr. Obama. "That is how we will achieve the number one goal of my plan, which is to create three million new jobs, more than 80 percent of them in the private sector."
Mr. Obama said more than two million Americans lost their jobs in 2008, and the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve, estimates that one in every ten U.S. homeowners is delinquent on mortgage payments or in foreclosure.