January 8th, 2009
06:34 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama urges Congress to act quickly on economic aid package

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/08/transition.wrap/art.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="Barack Obama says failure to act quickly on his economic plan would have devastating consequences."]President-elect Barack Obama will call on Congress Thursday to move quickly on his economic aid package once he takes office, warning that a failure to do so would have devastating long-term consequences for the nation.

"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 will say in a speech on the economy, according to advanced excerpts of his remarks provided to CNN by a Transition official. "If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years."

Watch: Obama urging quick action on the economy

Obama will also address critics, who oppose such a massive spending plan by the federal government.

"It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe," Obama is expected to say at the late morning speech to be delivered at George Mason University in Virginia.

Full story

Excerpts after the jump


Excerpts of President-elect Barack Obama's speech on the economy provided to CNN by a Transition official:

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. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. 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. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world.

In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.


There is no doubt that the cost of this plan will be considerable. It will certainly add to the budget deficit in the short-term. But equally certain are the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes, and confidence in our economy. It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe. Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy – where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending; where an inability to lend and borrow stops growth and leads to even less credit.

That is why we need to act boldly and act now to reverse these cycles. That’s why we need to put money in the pockets of the American people, create new jobs, and invest in our future. That’s why we need to re-start the flow of credit and restore the rules of the road that will ensure a crisis like this never happens again.

That work begins with this plan – a plan I am confident will save or create at least three million jobs over the next few years. It is not just another public works program. It’s a plan that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment – the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work, even as, all around the country, there is so much work to be done. That’s why we’ll invest in priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century. That’s why the overwhelming majority of the jobs created will be in the private sector, while our plan will save the public sector jobs of teachers, cops, firefighters and others who provide vital services.


I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan. Our government has already spent a good deal of money, but we haven’t yet seen that translate into more jobs or higher incomes or renewed confidence in our economy. That’s why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan won’t just throw money at our problems – we’ll invest in what works. The true test of the policies we’ll pursue won’t be whether they’re Democratic or Republican ideas, but whether they create jobs, grow our economy, and put the American Dream within reach of the American people.

Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made transparently, and informed by independent experts wherever possible. Every American will be able to hold Washington accountable for these decisions by going online to see how and where their tax dollars are being spent. And as I announced yesterday, we will launch an unprecedented effort to eliminate unwise and unnecessary spending that has never been more unaffordable for our nation and our children’s future than it is right now.


Now, this recovery plan alone will not solve all the problems that led us into this crisis. We must also work with the same sense of urgency to stabilize and repair the financial system we all depend on. That means using our full arsenal of tools to get credit flowing again to families and business, while restoring confidence in our markets. It means launching a sweeping effort to address the foreclosure crisis so that we can keep responsible families in their homes. It means preventing the catastrophic failure of financial institutions whose collapse could endanger the entire economy, but only with maximum protections for taxpayers and a clear understanding that government support for any company is an extraordinary action that must come with significant restrictions on the firms that receive support. And it means reforming a weak and outdated regulatory system so that we can better withstand financial shocks and better protect consumers, investors, and businesses from the reckless greed and risk-taking that must never endanger our prosperity again.

No longer can we allow Wall Street wrongdoers to slip through regulatory cracks. No longer can we allow special interests to put their thumbs on the economic scales. No longer can we allow the unscrupulous lending and borrowing that leads only to destructive cycles of bubble and bust.

It is time to set a new course for this economy, and that change must begin now. We should have an open and honest discussion about this recovery plan in the days ahead, but I urge Congress to move as quickly as possible on behalf of the American people. For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Tom in Delaware

    Hurry! Hurry! The sky is falling!

    Isn't it great that the analyst's who just said that we HAD to bailout the Big 3 Auto-makers, have just now said that the $4 Billion given to Chrsyler has dissappeared into the void and that there's no way that they can stay afloat.

    Start the investigation of Fannie and Freddie NOW, and for GOD's sake, don't let it be led by politicans!

    Let's hear it from the 'Transparency' supporters and get to the bottom of this.

    Stop putting a band-aid on a bullet wound; Let the real surgery begin to correct this problem.

    No more Bailout Money...let the market correct itself the old fashioned way....Bankruptcy.

    January 8, 2009 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  2. Stop Slick Barry!!

    Don't let this slick salesman have his way. We can't afford all this new spending, new programs, and new debt.

    January 8, 2009 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  3. John

    I'm really excited about this, and I think it will go through. The grumbling by the Republicans about tax cuts isn't entirely a bad thing, and it's also them doing their token opposition to something that sufficient numbers of them will come around to support once everything is said and done. The "no earmarks!" rule is smart from a practical point of view, and brilliant from a political perspective. That should help get the majority of the electorate to support it.

    Obama's position in his first term is very simple. If he can work with Congress and fix the economy, there is nothing that can stop him from being reelected. If he can't, if he can't fix the economy, there is nothing that will help him get reelected. Everything else, every other issue, any other scandal, won't matter when compared to the economy.

    January 8, 2009 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  4. Give me a break!

    That's MY President...already at work to turn America around one step at a time. We have to start here – AT HOME – before we can begin solving the problems of the world. Thank you, sir.

    January 8, 2009 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  5. Scott

    Obama needs to just shut up until the 20th! When he's officially your president, then he can end the mortgage, banking, auto, middle east, unemployment crisis in his first six months.

    January 8, 2009 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  6. carol

    PE Obama is on the ball and wants to get this country working again ASAP, roll on Jan 20th so he can officially gets things moving.....this country needs revitalizing and he is the man to do it.

    January 8, 2009 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  7. Xavier

    Okay republicans you made this mess, so how about if you stop acting like spoiled children and actually stop dragging your feet and support the president elect in his quest to solve our economic woes. As president elect Obama has shown more leadership on the economy than your entire republican administration has. Its time to stop listening to divisive republican mouthpieces like Morning Joe, Rush, Hanity and Oreilly. These people only care about their own rating, and they will continue to speak poison so as to rally their viewers even as our economy sinks further and further into the hole.

    January 8, 2009 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  8. JJ12345

    Acting quickly brought us the first round of bailouts, we may need to be a little more deliberate with this one. Dont get me wrong it needs to be done soon but not at such a pace where it will be worse in the long run.

    January 8, 2009 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  9. ga.

    i believe a stimulus plan with obama in charge might work, the past stimulus didn't help because the ones in charge can't even tell us where our money was spent.

    January 8, 2009 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  10. SMR


    January 8, 2009 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  11. Jose E. Muñiz

    Mr. President-elect Barack Obama:
    The Congress should work on a special pacakage of incentives for those corporations that move production to the Far East, so they move back to the USA their production, research and development. Many, many jobs have lost because of incentives offered by those countries, and it's time to go back to the label "Made in USA". It's time that those economies take care of their own business and the USA stop protecting them. This is a big problem that has helped in lossing american jobs. We need to keep our technology out of the reach of countries that want to see the USA economy destroyed. I have been working in sales for the electronics industry, and know that.

    It's time also to cut the lobbyst business in Washington. My personal opinion is that this business has it's contribution to the problems we have now.

    January 8, 2009 07:50 am at 7:50 am |

    Well said.

    At least this deficit will be deficit spending from which our country will benefit, unlike the current administration.

    Yes, the children of this fine country will pay for the deficit for generations to come, but ask yourself, would you rather they have a new electrical grid, safe bridges, modern hospitals and improved public education for those trillions?

    Or sewers and schools in Iraq and unbridled government waste in which the current administration has invested 5 trillion to date and counting. Your children will be paying for this Bush legacy as well.

    The current government decided to cut taxes instead of improving the way we spend those taxes. Obama is more interested in improving the way we spend the taxes we already pay.

    You decide.

    January 8, 2009 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  13. Steve

    Hey Obama, throw some crumbs my way. I'll vote for you in '12 I promise!

    January 8, 2009 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  14. Scott L

    Yet he defers to Bush on the middle east crisis. What a coward.

    January 8, 2009 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  15. atlas

    How bout this stimulus plan....let the working folks keep ALL their paycheck for an entire year????

    Call me crazy, but that just might help us out of this recession and get gov't out of our backpockets for a change. But there enlies the problem....gov't wants to make it seem they know what's better for us. We're too stupid to know what to do w/our own money.

    January 8, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  16. Ommy

    Ha. It seems that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have other, more pressing priorities. Like the Land Management bill for which Reid wants a Sunday vote.

    January 8, 2009 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  17. obama-mama

    It's time to get the ball rolling. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.

    January 8, 2009 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  18. Newport News, VA

    @ Scott L

    He'e explained time over time that there is only one president at a time. As sensative an issue the Middle East conflict is, it is still on George Bushs' watch. The economy also is on his watch, but that is a serious domestic problem which can not be neglected because if it is, the markets will suffer. It's progressive that Obama is pushing his economic stimulus plan now so there won't be a hold up once he takes office. Give the man a break.

    January 8, 2009 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  19. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Stop Slick Barry!! January 8th, 2009 7:07 am ET

    Don't let this slick salesman have his way. We can't afford all this new spending, new programs, and new debt.
    News flash: Many CONSERVATIVE economists believe he's on the right track this time. In most cases you'd be right, but this one is special. Even Bush himself agrees. He admits that capitalism has, at least temporarily, stopped working.

    Think about this: Normally, you wouldn't think of electrocuting yourself. But when you have a heart attack, that's exactly what they do – they electrocute you. It's called a defibrillator. And that's what this economy needs.

    January 8, 2009 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  20. carlo

    Scott said:

    January 8th, 2009 8:27 am ET

    Yet he defers to Bush on the middle east crisis. What a coward
    Would you prefer that he focus his attention on the middle east crisis when we are facing a possible Depression? He's not even in office yet. I'll bet you gave Bush a lot more wiggle room, though. You are a coward, because I'll bet that you wouldn't say half of that to anyone's face who had a different opinion, and neither would those goons over at Fox you listen to.

    January 8, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  21. Joyce in Indiana

    We can't afford not to have this program or something like it! When people lose their jobs, they stop paying taxes, so the deficit will increase anyway. Some politicians may not like the idea of spending on infrastructure to get out of a recession, but most economists say that government spending is the only way to get out.

    All the haters who are against this idea just because they don't like who proposed it need to give their new president a chance before they criticize, or at least be willing to admit publicly that they were wrong when this idea does work.

    January 8, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  22. carlo

    I'd also like to add that none of these uber conservatives had a problem with Bush flushing our surplus down the drain in Iraq or with him swelling the size of the government or with him requesting $700 billion to bail out his friends but no money to help the homeowners those same banks duped.

    Once again, hypocritical to the fifth power.

    January 8, 2009 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  23. Maggie from Virginia

    Obama will get his way... Haven't you naysayers learned anything yet?

    January 8, 2009 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  24. Brian ATL

    "a plan I am confident will save or create at least three million jobs "

    How do you save a job? You don't need a plan, just order the company I work for to stop firing people. You'll be the president soon so they have to do what you say, right?

    January 8, 2009 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  25. Virginia

    Yeah, obama-mama–we can roll up our sleeves so HE can get ALL of our blood. After all, those that voted for him are about as smart as turnips...

    January 8, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
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