Obama: Country needs economic stimulus plan

Published 11:40 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

CHICAGO — President-elect Barack Obama urged congressional leaders Saturday to move quickly on an economic recovery plan, even as some Republicans are saying they want more time to review the details.

Obama said Congress should pass an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan designed to create 3 million jobs. The Democratic president-elect hasn’t announced a final price tag on it, but aides said the cost could be as high as $775 billion.

“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 won’t have the same opportunities they had,” Obama said in an address taped Friday and distributed on radio and posted on YouTube Saturday morning.

The nation’s economy remains the top challenge facing Obama when he takes office on Jan. 20. The Federal Reserve estimated that lenders were on track to initiate 2.25 million foreclosures this year, more than doubling the annual pace before the crisis set in. One in 10 U.S. homeowners is delinquent on mortgage payments or in foreclosure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are to receive details on Monday. Obama plans meetings next week with other congressional leaders — including Republican members whose support he will need — and made an effort not to blame his predecessor, the unpopular President George W. Bush.

“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. … I am optimistic that if we come together to seek solutions that advance not the interests of any party, or the agenda of any one group, but the aspirations of all Americans, then we will meet the challenges of our time just as previous generations have met the challenges of theirs.”

Obama aides had hoped to have an economic plan approved by the House and Senate before Obama takes office. That timeline, though, appears unlikely as time is running out and Republicans have urged a delay to review the plans. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republicans’ top official, said the plan needs time so that “every dollar needs to be spent wisely and not wasted in the rush to get it spent.”

Congressional aides briefed on the measure say it’s likely to blend tax cuts of $500 to $1,000 for middle-class individuals and couples with about $200 billion to help revenue-starved states with their Medicaid programs and other operating costs.