Obama urges quick economic action

US President Barack Obama has called for urgent action on his $825bn (£586bn) economic recovery plan, saying the American people expect it.

Republican lawmakers are increasingly vocal in opposing the bill, complaining it is too expensive and unworkable.

Amid talks with congressional Republicans to try to persuade them to accept the plan, he said he did not expect 100% agreement from them.

But Mr Obama appealed to them to “put politics aside”.

The president hopes his plan could clear Congress by mid-February.

“There are some legitimate philosophical difference with parts of my plan that the Republican shave,and I respect that,” Mr Obama said.

“In some cases they may just not be as familiar with what’s in the package as I would like.

“I don’t expect 100% agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people’s business.”

He spoke to reporters after meetings with House of Representatives Republicans and before another meeting with senators.

“The main message I have is that the statistics every day underscore the urgency of the economic situation.

“The American people expect action.”

Republican House leader John Boehner said after the Obama meeting: “I think we both share a sincere belief that we have to have a plan that works.”

Republicans lack the votes to defeat the stimulus bill on their own, but c

ould slow its progress, especially in the Senate.

‘Unprecedented crisis’

Any decision will fall to the new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was sworn in on Monday, with the task of trying to get the US economy back in shape.

President Obama has said his administration will be held accountable for the success or failure of his stimulus plan.

He has described the US as being “in the midst of an unprecedented crisis” and has announced:

  • More than 3,000 miles of new electricity transmission lines would be laid down to improve the US power network
  • 75% of public sector buildings would be made more energy-efficient, saving taxpayers $2bn a year
  • More than 2.5m homes would be “weatherized” (made more energy efficient)
  • Funds would be made available to improve or renovate 10,000 schools

Other proposals include tax credits for firms that create jobs, tax cuts for 95% of American workers and extended unemployment benefits.

The president has pledged the plan “will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years”.

 

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