Mon, Jan 12, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Obama calls again for dramatic action on US economy

EXPLORING THE CAPITAL The US president-elect dropped by Ben's Chili Bowl with Washington's mayor, then took some time out with his family at the Lincoln Memorial


US president-elect Barack Obama has called again for “immediate and dramatic action” to deal with the deepening US economic crisis that has cost millions of Americans their jobs.

In his weekly radio and YouTube broadcast address on Saturday, Obama said that he had taken the unusual step of working ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration with members of his own Democratic Party as well as the rival Republicans to seek consensus on a plan to stimulate a recovery from the recession.

“If nothing is done, economists from across the spectrum tell us that this recession could linger for years and the unemployment rate could reach double digits — and they warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world,” he said.

The president-elect said that a new analysis by his economic advisers indicated that his economic recovery plan “will likely save or create 3 to 4 million jobs.”

Still, the 14-page analysis, which was posted on the Web, noted that estimates are “subject to significant margins of error” — because of the assumptions that went into the economic models and because it was not known what might be approved by Congress.

Obama has provided few details of his estimated US$775 billion plan so far. This fresh report does not include the specific construction of his tax cuts, the amounts dedicated to state aid or public works — key questions that Obama aides have not answered.

Some Congressional Republicans reacted skeptically, demanding that aid be carefully targeted and that help for the states be in the form of loans rather than grants.

“We want to make sure it’s not just a trillion-dollar spending bill, but something that actually can reach the goal that he has suggested,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate’s top Republican.

Also on Saturday, Obama’s transition team disclosed that he plans to take his first international trip to Canada.

The aides said he would meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but said they could not discuss the date for the trip or its agenda.

Obama’s family also took advantage of one of the last weekends before his presidency begins to do a little exploring in Washington.

Obama made an impromptu visit on Saturday night with his family at the Lincoln Memorial, paying tribute to a beloved president he frequently invokes as an inspiration.

Obama arrived in his motorcade shortly after 7pm.

He stepped out with his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha and walked up the steps into the memorial.

Obama frequently invokes the memory of Abraham Lincoln and plans to use the same bible at his inauguration that Lincoln used for his swearing in.

Earlier, Obama joined Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a venerable diner in Washington’s U Street district.

In his broadcast address, Obama said it was not too late to change the nation’s economic course — “but only if we take immediate and dramatic action.”

But in a separate interview on ABC television’s This Week set to air yesterday, Obama also acknowledged that he may not be able to keep all of his campaign promises because of the economic crisis.

“I want to be realistic here,” he said. “Not everything that we talked about during the campaign ... [would be done] on the pace we had hoped.”

Obama’s plan has met with some objections from lawmakers, who want to ensure that programs are targeted more toward consumers.

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