Obama Wants Quick Action On Economic Stimulus

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[National News]

President Barack Obama tonight reiterated his call for the Senate to move quickly to pass his $800 billion stimulus plan to avert further economic decline that could spiral out of control, in his first nationally televised news conference tonight.

He said the country was experiencing "the worst economic crises since the great depression."

The president said that he would continue with his overtures to Republicans but that at this time he could not afford to wait any longer. He also said he believed that some Republicans objected to his stimulus proposal had a fundamental philosophical objection--that their position was that government should never get involved in the market.

He said he would work with those who saw the need for a stimulus but may have disagreement with the mix in terms of some of the specific items in the stimulus proposal itself.

The stimulus Bill is now believed to have the support of 61 Senators; with the backing of three Republicans. The Bill is expected to pass later this week.

Unless there was swift action, the president said, there would be "even greater deficits, even greater loss of income, and loss of confidence if nothing is done."

"Act without delay," he said, in remarks directly pointed at Congress. "The citizens of this country and all countries are are watching," he added.

Responding to a reporter's question he denied that he was trying to use fear-mongering but that he has consistently said that "if you delay on an economy of this severity then you potentially create a negative spiral which becomes difficult to get out of." He referred to Japan's experience, where he said a failure to act quickly, and ended up with a lost decade.

The president said his main objective is to create or stop the loss of four million jobs; to loosen the credit markets; and to slow the rate of foreclosures and stabilize the value of homes.

The president said his plan will create jobs in construction –building roads, bridges, dams, levees, and schools. Money would also create jobs working on the nation’s healthcare system and in the green industry.

The president noted that the rate of job losses has accelerated in the past three months and that about a third of the 3.6 million jobs lost since the recession started in December 2007, occurred in the last 90 days.

Also addressing question related to foreign policy, the president said Afghanistan will present a serious challenge because the government there didn’t seem to be in touch with the populace; he also said the US needs to see signs from Iran that it is ready for a new approach in relations.

He also didn’t rule out punishing Bush Administration officials for crimes committed while in office; he was responding to a question from a reporter about Senator Pat Leahey’s proposal for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"If there are clear instances of wrong doing; people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizens. But generally speaking I am more interested in looking forward rather than backward," he said.

The president, responding to a reporter’s question also said it was "depressing news" to learn about Alex Rodriguez's confession that he used steroids during his early years with the Texas Rangers. He said the worst thing was that it sent a wrong message to "our kids."


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