Obama seeks public support for $825 bln US stimulus plan

Obama warned in his weekly radio address that joblessness could hit double digits and the economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity if nothing was done.

Obama seeks public support for $825 bln US stimulus plan

President Barack Obama pledged on Saturday to create jobs, improve healthcare and lay the groundwork for a clean energy future as he sought to build public support for an $825 billion stimulus plan some lawmakers fear is too costly.

Saying more people filed for unemployment this week than at any time in the past 26 years, Obama warned in his weekly radio address that joblessness could hit double digits and the economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity if nothing was done.

"If we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse," the new U.S. president said in his first weekly radio address. He said he expected to sign an economic recovery plan into law within a month.

The White House said a report outlining the impact of the stimulus plan would be put on its website, www.whitehouse.gov, at 6 a.m. (1100 GMT) on Saturday. Aides said the report began to put "meat on the bones" of Obama's previously stated goals.

Obama took office on Tuesday with the United States in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The radio address on Saturday continued the push he began this month to win quick congressional approval of the $825 billion spending bill he hopes will lift the economy out of recession.

Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House on Friday and planned to meet Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in a bid to build consensus for the stimulus and bridge the partisan divide that has divided Washington for years.

Energy efficiency

He said in his radio address the economic recovery plan would save or create 3 million to 4 million jobs while investing in priorities like clean energy development, education and improving healthcare efficiency.

Obama said he intended to double the U.S. capacity to generate energy from renewable sources like wind, solar and biofuels, and also discussed building a new electricity grid with 3,000 miles (4,828 km) of transmission lines.

"We'll save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75 percent of federal buildings more energy efficient, and save the average working family $350 on their energy bills by weatherizing 2.5 million homes," Obama said.

The plan also includes a Clean Energy Financing Initiative with loan guarantees and other financing mechanisms that aim to encourage $100 billion in clean energy financing in three years, an aide said.

The president said the economic recovery program included funds to computerize the nation's health records in five years, which he said would save "billions of dollars in health care costs and countless lives."

The recovery program includes what one aide said was "the single largest investment in preventative health care in our nation's history" to ensure people receive immunizations and get help to stop smoking and reduce obesity. Officials did not place a dollar figure on the program.

Obama said the stimulus plan included financing to modernize or renovate 10,000 schools and provide grants for 4 million university students.

Funds also would be used to repair U.S. roadways and expand the country's mass transit systems, to provide better security at 90 major U.S. ports and to build more effective communications networks for police and other safety officials.

"I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan," Obama said. He said to ensure accountability and transparency, the administration would post details of the spending programs on a website called recovery.gov.

Reuters
Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2009, 16:54
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