Obama Pushes Hard on Economic Recovery



Taking the case for passing his economic recovery plan to the people in his first weekly video address as president, Barack Obama emphasized the need to pass the measure in order to offset growing unemployment and declining family incomes.

Obama pointed out that a consensus among economists has emerged on the need for a Main Street bailout. '[E]xperts agree,' he stated, 'that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four.'

Predicting the economic recovery plan now pending in Congress could save or create as many as four million jobs over the next two years, President Obama described the plan as both a short-term stimulus and a long-term investment 'in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.'

Any economic recovery plan can't just have narrow short-term interests in mind, Obama warned. Failure to make more fundamental changes or 'remaking America,' as the president put it, is a recipe for keeping the country on the same course of stagnation and the lack of dynamism. For this reason, part of the infrastructure investment included in the recovery plan would create new jobs by jump-starting 'the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, and biofuels over the next three years.'

The plan would also build a new energy grid, laying new transmission lines, improving energy efficiency in federal buildings, and helping millions of families weatherize their homes in order to save on energy bills.

Additional funds would be made available to modernize health records, to repair and rebuild public schools, fund state-level health care programs and to make college costs more affordable. In addition, repairing and building roads as well as improving mass transit will create jobs and improve the quality of life, Obama stated.

Specifically, aid to states for education and health care purposes will allow many states to avoid budget shortfalls, requiring deeper cuts in needed programs and/or higher taxes for working families. Already, deep cuts in state budgets have forced many thousands of job cuts in both education and health care programs. In some states, whole schools districts have been closed down, sending hundreds of teachers and staff to the unemployment line.

Obama welcomed bipartisanship in the legislative process and pledged to eliminate wasteful spending. But he also hinted a warning against taking too much time pass this emergency legislation.

After the loss of more than 2.5 million jobs in 2008 and more than one year in recession, the economy needs a serious jolt. The Republicans' preference for pretending no change is needed won't turn things around quickly enough to avoid more economic pain.

See Obama's weekly address here: