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Obama: Alarmed at How Quickly Economy Deteriorated


U.S. President Barack Obama says he is alarmed at how quickly the U.S. economy has deteriorated.

Mr. Obama gave several interviews to U.S. television networks Tuesday. He promoted his economic stimulus plan and said his legacy as president will hinge on whether he was able to, in his words, "get this economy fixed."

He said there was room to improve the plan with the help of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, but said it would help by providing health insurance to the unemployed, weather-proofing homes, and creating environmentally friendly jobs. He said the plan will provide short-term relief and long-term benefits.

Bad news about the U.S. economy continued to pile up Tuesday, although the real estate industry reported a small positive sign. The National Association of Realtors says sharp declines in home prices have persuaded more buyers to enter the market.

News in other markets was bleak. Japan's Toyota reported a 32 percent drop in auto sales for January, and sales for the U.S.-based General Motors fell by nearly half.

U.S. senators were voting Tuesday on amendments to President Obama's nearly $900-billion spending and tax cut plan. Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to act with the "same sense of urgency" most Americans feel about the economy.

President Obama has said he would like to sign the plan into law by mid-February.

Democratic lawmakers say they want the package to do more for struggling homeowners, while Republicans argue more tax cuts are needed to encourage spending.

The Obama administration is working with key officials of other nations to solve the economic crisis. Officials say Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has recently consulted by phone with officials in China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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