U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden says the incoming White House economic team is making progress toward agreeing on details of an economic stimulus plan. President-elect Barack Obama's advisers are increasing the number of jobs they want to create.
As he met with the economic team, Biden said Tuesday that America's job losses are more than experts had previously believed, and so a bigger stimulus package is needed.
"This deterioration in the nation's unemployment situation has led the president-elect to instruct our economic team, some of which are assembled here today, to raise the goal of our stimulus plan from 2.5 milion jobs to three million new jobs to be created over the next two years," he said.
Former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who will lead Mr. Obama's National Economic Council, told reporters that bold action is required immediately.
"Without substantial policy action, we would almost certainly face the worst economic downturn since the Second World War," he said.
Mr. Obama's economic team and the Democrats who control Congress are trying to agree on the outline of the plan in time for lawmakers to act on it early in January. They hope to have it ready for Mr. Obama to enact it as soon as possible after he takes office on January 20.
Vice President-elect Biden says the new administration and congressional leaders are very close to agreeing on the size of the stimulus package, and where the money will go. He says the president-elect and his advisers want to spend much of it to rebuild the nation's infrastructure.
"This plan will be focused on making investments in health care, education and energy, among other areas. And it will be directed at critical investments in the nation's roads and our bridges," he said. "I know there is some talk of us investing in programs that are already in existence. But we have let our infrastructure crumble for a long, long time - from water to roads to bridges - and it makes sense to invest in them now."
The cost of the proposed stimulus plan is estimated to be between $650 billion and $850 billion. Mr. Biden says U.S. taxpayers can rest assured that the package will not contain earmarks - special-interest projects that lawmakers often attach to spending bills.
"This is not going to be politics as usual. And we will not tolerate business as usual in Washington," he said. "There will be - let me say it again - there will be no earmarks in this economic recovery plan."
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that the nation's gross domestic product, or GDP - the value of all of the goods and services produced in the United States - shrank by an annual rate of one-half of one percent between July and September.