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Obama Offers First Look at Massive Public Works Plan to Create 2.5 Million Jobs
Much of the public works program would be aimed at improving technology. The government would pay for new computers in schools, new medical technology in hospitals and doctors' offices, and a nationwide push to bring broadband to parts of the country that cannot yet access the Internet at high speeds.
Calling it "unacceptable" that the United States ranks 15th globally in high-speed-Internet adoption, Obama said in his address that "every child should have the chance to get online."
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com, said the kind of infrastructure spending Obama has proposed "makes perfect sense" for an economy that is likely to be struggling for years.
But he said the projects must be married with the tax breaks and aid to states, which would spark more economic activity quickly.
In a scenario he has presented to governors and congressional committees, Zandi estimated that a $600 billion stimulus package similar to the one Obama has proposed could bring the unemployment rate back to 5 percent by 2012.
"There's been a lot of thought put into economic recovery, stimulus," he said. "The fact that the economy is rapidly eroding provides a strong impetus to get something done quickly."
Staff writer Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.