Obama's team touts stimulus
AFP - 1 hour 39 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - - Barack Obama's advisers said Saturday his economic stimulus plan will "save or create three to four million jobs" as the president-elect sought to stem criticism of the 775-billion-dollar plan designed to revive the troubled economy.
Obama posted the 14-page analysis on his website as his aides pressed Congress to adopt the plan amid a deepening recession and signs of opposition from his fellow Democrats.
His top economic advisor Lawrence Summers and political strategist David Axelrod are set to return to Congress on Sunday to brief lawmakers on the package that includes a mix of tax cuts and public works projects.
Obama had previously said his plan could create or save about three million jobs, but the analysis by his top advisers Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein suggested the proposal could generate or salvage up to four million jobs .
Over 90 percent of the jobs would come in the private sector, it said.
In the absence of a stimulus plan, advisers warned, the economy could lose another three to four million more jobs over the comings months and years, on top of the jobs already lost in the current downturn.
"Thus, we are working to counter a potential total job loss of at least 5 million," the analysis said.
Obama, who takes office on January 20 amid a steady stream of dismal economic news, released the report after a number of Democratic senators raised objections over a 300 billion dollar tax cut plan included in the stimulus package and questioned whether a job creation tax credit for small business would work.
Republican lawmakers meanwhile are balking at the big spending in the plan while welcoming the proposed tax cuts, citing fears over a mushrooming deficit.
But Obama said the economic price of not launching a huge stimulus package would be far worse, despite a budget deficit forecast to top one trillion dollars this year.
He said Saturday that if nothing was done "the unemployment rate could reach double digits" and that experts "warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world."
The debate over the plan came as a monthly Labor Department report out Friday showed US employers shed a massive 524,000 jobs in December, capping a yearly loss of 2.6 million. The job loss figures for 2008 were the worst in a year since 1945.
The economic team's report said that some 500,000 jobs will be created by investing in clean energy and committing to double the production of alternative energy in the next three years.
About 400,000 people will be put to work repairing US infrastructure, including the country's crumbling roads, bridges and schools, the advisors estimated.
"They'll be the kind of jobs that don't just put people to work in the short term, but position our economy to lead the world in the long-term," Obama said of his plan.
And hundreds of thousands of others jobs will be created through improvements to the nation's health care system and by computerizing medical records that prevent medical errors, Obama's team said.
The analysis concedes that due to assumptions of the plan's economic model and uncertainty for what will ultimately emerge after the proposal is worked over by Congress, the team's estimates are "subject to significant margins of error."
Referring to one of Obama's main pledges in his election campaign, the plan includes a "middle class tax cut along the lines of the Making Work Pay tax cut that the president-elect proposed during the campaign," the analysis said.
Obama said that the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s would not be easily solved.
"Recovery won't happen overnight, and it's likely that things will get worse before they get better," he said in his weekly radio address, but also expressed optimism that Americans will overcome the current difficulties.
"We have come through moments like this before ... And I am confident that if we come together and summon that great American spirit once again, we will meet the challenges of our time and write the next great chapter in our American story," he said.
The incoming president said his first task after moving into the White House on January 20 would be to put people back to work and get the US economy moving again.
On Thursday, Obama proposed tax cuts and a rapid move to green energy as part of the massive stimulus package that he said was essential to avert economic disaster.
"I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible," Obama said in his first set-piece speech since his election triumph.
"If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years," he said, in an appeal to both Congress and the public.
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