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. S Callahan

    Call me cynical...but...

    At this point I think Congress would serve the citizens best by giving each family two packets each of every kind of seeded food.....
    at least when there is nothing left they can eat.

    January 8, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. Hall for Obama

    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."
    You are to late we are in debt up to our eye balls. Where have you been the last 8 years.

    January 8, 2009 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  3. Sweetie

    I sure hope this plan works!

    As a person 55 years old I can honestly say from experience that throwing more borrowed money into the Pot doesn't solve the problem!

    We need to shrink government spending not increase it at a rate that will have my granddaughter’s children still paying the Tab!

    Where are the Smart Folks and why aren't they being listened to?

    January 8, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. Penney Madison

    Chee, Obama needs to change the shade of his lipstick. That purple look just doesn't cut it.

    January 8, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. Carey Manet

    In other words, um, um, I don't know what else to do except throw lots and lots of your tax money at the situation. Sure, I just know that'll, um, um, fix it.

    January 8, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  6. Carmelle

    So many of you complaining, but offer no solution. This why the Repubs in Congress are going to have to back him up. hahahaha


    Can you answer this question before you bash the guy for having a plan?

    January 8, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. Joe in NJ

    Translation: "Do what I say and do it now otherwise I'll blame you for any additional problems with the economy."

    January 8, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. obama-mama

    All the complainers on here I don't see in office. If you have a better solution, let's here it. Otherwise stifle yourselves....

    January 8, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  9. Old Man in Colorado

    For this investment to really work, it must be for the first time ever, truly transparent, that is, all contracts let should be posted online with dollar values clearly evident. Let me site an example...

    My small company gets the contract to change light bulbs in the local post offices (of course maintenance usually handles this, but just for the sake of argument) and we supply the bulbs, now in the past and being this is a 'government' contract with little or no oversight we could charge em 20.00 each for the bulb alone even though they cost us 0.50. If on the other hand this information was available to the public and local media that we were ripping off the public, there would be a mob with torches and pitchforks at our door.

    You get my drift here? How do you think we ended up paying 600.00 for a toilet seat and 5.00 for a nail? We'll see what happens soon enough but this attitude of contractors has got to stop and when done in the light of day, it just might.

    One more thing, for God's sake, don't give these contracts to Haliburton or KBR (Kellog, Brown & Root).

    I'm just saying....

    January 8, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    All the economic experts say this is necessary and even more money than Obama has projected is needed. This is not the time for Congress to sit back and do nothing and it surely isn't the time for Americans to criticize what is needed as our economy worsens. GOT A BETTER SOLUTION, WRITE OBAMA.

    January 8, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. watcher

    "Quick! More money! Don't ask questions, there's no time to waste!
    I know you've heard this before several times, but this time it's for real. Honest!"
    Yeah, right.

    January 8, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. a little sad

    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.

    Dear Stop:

    What we couldn't afford was the past 8 years. Unfortunately, that is water under the bridge.

    To get the economy moving again, someone has to spend money. When the private sector won't or can't, the public sector has to.

    I wish we hadn't come to this, but we're here now. Throwing roadblocks in front of the new administration will only prolong the downturn.

    If you have a better plan, post it.

    January 8, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. Tia

    Before we make another bailout bill mistake like the first one, can we please remove all the earmarks? I'm all for helping americans who are struggling, but I don't see out making internet access availble on schoolbuses are supposed to help people with their mortgages or heating bills. I don't care it if is a small percentage...the little things add up and anyone buying groceries these days knows that. This isn't the time for the unnecessary.

    Instead of doling out checks of $500 or $1,000 why not a tax holiday so it the money isn't taking from us in the first place. Oh wait. that doesn't help those who don't pay into the system but received from the system. Sorry, my mistake! Enjoy surfing the internet!

    January 8, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. obama-mama

    @ Penney Madison – I'm pretty sure he's cuter than you.

    January 8, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  15. John in Ohio

    "For this investment to really work, it must be for the first time ever, truly transparent, that is, all contracts let should be posted online with dollar values clearly evident. Let me site an example…"

    That's part of the plan. It's unusual, it won't make Obama many friends in the DNC or DLC, but its what we need.

    January 8, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. theo

    Just don't let those morons Reid and Pelosi pull the purse strings!!!!

    January 8, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. lisa

    America actually got next to nothing for the last trillion spent. Most Americans have been suffering for eight years with our hands tied. Its hard to buy a safe fuel efficient car, to buy a lead/melamine free dinner plate or toy, to get medical treatment...the list is long and many unethical entities are dipping into our pocket books without giving us anything in return. This time we should spend a trillion dollars that produces an investment worth more than a trillion down the road and we as a country can see something for all that money for the majority of Americans...a bang for the buck, obamanomics!

    January 8, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. Ken in Dallas

    Boy, you guys sure have a lot to contribute. "Get started,", "No, stop," "Send seeds."

    Does anybody have any actual ideas about what will work? After all, you shouldn't criticize if you don't have any constructive ideas to offer in place of the ones you're ripping up, should you?

    We know there's enough loose cash in the US (around $9 trillion) to give the economy the real boost it needs, far more than we can expect the government to raise. What will it take to get more of that private capital into play? What kinds of projects will generate the most jobs of the kinds we need? What kinds of jobs do we need? What are the skills of the people who are falling out of work?

    There are lots of details that have to go into this planning, and Obama's people aren't and can't be everywhere. We have plenty of constructive things we could be thinking through, if we want to make a real contribution.

    The rest of you, carry on as you were.

    January 8, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. gregg45

    oh heil to our saved one,, may he end the wars of all wars,,,,may we not look upon his face,, fore we will be stricken,,, never ask what we can do for him , but ask for his blessing and it will come,,, thanks america for voting ,it was the wisest choice since hitler,,, a former democrat........ me

    January 8, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. Mari

    I have READ in the Wall Street Journal AND New York Times the opinions of various Economists.

    Both conservative and liberal economists agree that this stimulus is needed to jump-start the U.S. economy.

    Many people posting here have not done their homework. Those oppose to the stimulus do not understand the dire situation our economy is in!

    Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Winner for Economy says, that the stimulus package is necessary or we will face A CERTAIN DEPRESSION.

    THANKS GEORGE W. BUSH! Bush came into office during one of the MOST prosperous times in our Nation's history, and is leaving our Nation ........ BANKRUPTED!



    January 8, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  21. Mari

    ONE MORE THING..........

    Reading the comments here by the far-right-nuts, I am convinced they are GOP operatives making mischief.

    Its interesting to see the onslaught of hate, lies, fear and division mongers posting on the CNN blogs!

    One might think we have accidentally typed in Faux News instead!

    January 8, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. gregg45

    the arrp ,American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan .. wow , when does the termination of people over 60 start,,, or others who not like him? go hitler .it was a good ride

    January 8, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. Matt

    For those of you who do not understand the difference, tlet's make a comparison:

    Bush borrowed us into record debt for a war that has destroyed Iraq, completely destabilized the Middle East and basically wrote the terrorist recruitment bible for the next half century. It did NOTHING to pave our way to progress and economic stability, just lined the pockets of Haliburton and others, killed thousands of Americans and Iraqis and, in fact, helped bring our economy down.

    Obama's "new programs" that you are complaining about are actually carefully geared towards generating new jobs, new industry and stabilizing the economy. They are not simply handouts. He is trying to get us to pay it forward by making an investment in ourselves instead of the war machine economy. You have to spend money to make money...the difference is spending is wisely.

    January 8, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Terry

    Remember when the Republicans blocked the bailout of the automotive industry? After rejecting the proposal on the table, what alternative proposal did the Republicans have? Surely you remember it? No? Perhaps because they proposed NOTHING, as usual.

    As soon as they had prevented the country from trying to solve a problem, they figured their job was done.

    Now Tom in Delaware reminds us of the Conservative recommendation for action: "let the market correct itself the old fashioned way….Bankruptcy."

    That is to say, do nothing. After all, every bankruptcy is just a buying opportunity for someone else. Lay off the workers, terminate their benefits, bankrupt their families, repossess their homes, and cut taxes on their employers.

    If Conservatives ran the weather department, they would argue that we should not build tornado shelters and levees. After all, let the natural forces of the "free" atmosphere seek balance. It may cause a lot of people to drown, but they made a bad decision about where to live. Why should MY tax money be used to rescue a bunch of losers?

    January 8, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. BS not Maverick

    If they don't we will throw them out, regardless of party!

    January 8, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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