Obama Details Recovery Plan

As major companies announce layoffs, President Barack Obama is urging Congress to act swiftly in passing his economic stimulus plan. Video by AP
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 25, 2009

President Obama pressed aggressively for his massive economic recovery plan yesterday, laying out the most detailed benchmarks to date of a stimulus package that would cost at least $820 billion and warning that the nation's economy could become dramatically worse without major federal investment.

With Congress preparing to take up the stimulus bill this week, Obama described what he would do with a recovery package aimed at saving or creating as many as 4 million jobs. The White House outlined proposals designed to appeal to Republicans who have resisted the scale of federal spending, as well as to average taxpayers, many hit hard by the recession, who have not felt the benefit of earlier government bailouts.

In his first weekly presidential radio and video address, Obama said his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is critical to jump-starting the economy, which lost 2.6 million jobs last year. The plan, he said, would protect workers from losing health-care coverage; modernize public schools, roads and sewer systems; lower energy costs and taxes; and make college more affordable.

This week, the new administration will step up its lobbying efforts to ensure that Obama's signature legislation passes Congress by mid-February. The president, who met with his chief economic advisers yesterday, plans to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday to court Republican leaders, and top administration officials will fan out on today's political talk shows to press their case.

"Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four," Obama said yesterday. "And we could lose a generation of potential, as more young Americans are forced to forgo college dreams or the chance to train for the jobs of the future.

"In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse."

Some congressional Republicans remain opposed to his plan, saying it includes too many spending programs that may not provide immediate economic relief and arguing that the roughly $225 billion in tax breaks in the Democrats' package is not enough. Obama wants to cut taxes by $1,000 for 95 percent of workers and their families.

"Unfortunately, the trillion-dollar spending plan authored by congressional Democrats is chock full of government programs and projects, most of which won't provide immediate relief to our ailing economy," House Republican Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) said yesterday in his party's response address.

Boehner spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier described the White House proposal as "just another unfocused, runaway bill loaded with slow and wasteful Washington spending on every conceivable goal."

Boehner criticized some spending proposals in the House Democratic plan, including $6 billion for colleges and universities, many of which have large endowments, and $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. "All told, the plan would spend a whopping $275,000 in taxpayer dollars for every new job it aims to create, saddling each and every household with $6,700 in additional debt," he said.

The White House released a four-page report yesterday outlining spending priorities and accountability measures for the recovery package. Obama wants to double renewable energy capacity within three years, creating enough additional capacity to power 6 million homes, and he plans to leverage $100 billion to finance private-sector clean-energy initiatives.

His plan also calls for an expansion of the child tax credit, which would provide a new tax cut to the families of more than 6 million children and increase the existing credit for the families of more than 10 million children.

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