President-elect Barack Obama says Washington must take dramatic action to combat the current economic recession. Mr. Obama, just days before his inauguration next Tuesday, says businesses like those producing alternative energy can play a major role in creating jobs and improving the nation's struggling economy.
President-elect Obama, speaking Friday at a factory in the Midwestern state of Ohio that makes parts for wind turbines, says he wants to double the production of renewable energy in the first three years of his administration.
Mr. Obama says this will put nearly a half-million people to work building wind turbines, solar panels, fuel efficient cars and developing new energy technologies.
"Renewable energy is not something pie-in-the-sky, it is not part of a far-off future, it is happening all across America right now," he said. "It is providing alternatives to foreign oil right now. It can create millions of additional jobs and entire new industries if we act right now."
Mr. Obama's speech came the day after members of the U.S. Congress unveiled a huge economic recovery plan combining $550 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax cuts designed to create jobs and push the economy out of recession.
The president-elect says immediate action is needed to avoid years of a poor economy.
"It is not too late to change course, but only if we take dramatic action as soon as possible," he said. "The way I see it, the first job of my administration is to put people back to work and get our economy moving again."
Mr. Obama says his economic plan will create three to four million jobs across a wide range of businesses, and 90 percent of those jobs will be in the private sector.
He also called for bi-partisan support for extending unemployment insurance and health care coverage.
"Now given the magnitude of these challenges, none of this is going to come easy," he said. "Recovery is not going to happen overnight. It is likely that even with the reinvestment package that we are putting forward, even with the measures that we are taking, things could get worse before they get better. I want everyone to be realistic about this."
Mr. Obama has said he is hoping the economic stimulus package will be passed by the Congress shortly after he takes office.