President-elect Barack Obama is promoting his economic plan to create 2.5-million jobs in his first two years in office. Mr. Obama says the plan will put people to work rebuilding roads and bridges, modernizing schools and developing alternative energy sources. VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington.
President-elect Obama says the United States faces "an economic crisis of historic proportions," and more must be done to put people back to work. "I have already directed my economic team to come up with an economic recovery plan that will mean 2.5-million more jobs by January, 2011, a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face, that I intend to sign soon after taking office," he said.
In the weekly Democratic Party radio address, the president-elect, who takes office on January 20th, said he wants to get the plan through Congress quickly, to help get Americans working again. "We will put people back to work, rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead," he said.
Mr. Obama admitted that there are no quick or easy solutions to the crisis, which he said has been years in the making, and that the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. However, he said immediate action is needed, with support from Democrats and Republicans. "These are not just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis. These are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long. And they represent an early down-payment on the type of reform my administration will bring to Washington," he said.
News reports on Friday said Mr. Obama would name New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner as his Treasury secretary. The New York financial markets soared afterward, with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining almost 500 points.
Economic help is urgently needed in the U.S. auto industry, where the three major automakers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) are all facing severe financial troubles. President George Bush recently signed a bill authorizing up to $25 billion in loans to help the three companies build more fuel-efficient vehicles. Several lawmakers proposed making that money available to keep the so-called "Big Three" in business if they restructure to become financially viable.
From the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Lima, Peru, Mr. Bush expressed disappointment Saturday that Congress adjourned without addressing the legislation. "My position is clear. If the automakers are willing to make the hard decisions needed to become viable, they should be able to receive the funds Congress already allotted to them for other purposes. This is a critical issue for our economy and our country. The American people expect their elected leaders to do what it takes to solve it," he said.
The chief executive officers of America's three major car companies came to Capitol Hill this past week, asking lawmakers for a financial rescue package. They faced a chilly reception after flying to Washington on corporate jets. Congress adjourned for the year without acting on any help for the auto industry, demanding that executives provide them with a plan of action in exchange for supporting any bailout.