As part of a plan to jump-start a struggling economy, President-elect Barack Obama urged Congress to act quickly and pass an emergency economic stimulus package centered on infrastructure, energy, education and health care jobs.
Obama announced his plan on Thursday, Jan. 8, and called it the American Recovery and Re-investment Plan, but did not provide a dollar figure. Some suggest that the stimulus package could be upward of $800 billion.
Obama said the cost would be “considerable” and would add to government deficits in the short term. He added that things could get worse before they get better.
Under the plan, stimulus money would be used to put Americans to work constructing and repairing roads, bridges and schools; growing science, education and health care; and developing alternative energy sources, including solar and wind.
“We will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years … saving consumers and taxpayers billions in energy bills,” he said.
Obama said the majority of Americans would be getting a $1,000 tax cut, something he promised during the presidential campaign.
Highway users, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, paid close attention to the speech, and are pleased with discussions on highway and bridge spending so far.
“Part of passing legislation is public relations,” said Mike Joyce, OOIDA director of legislative affairs.
“President-elect Obama knew how to sell himself on the campaign trail, and now he has to sell himself and his policies on Pennsylvania Avenue.”
“We hope the infrastructure projects that taxpayers will be asked to invest in will be good infrastructure projects because we will all be paying for this,” Joyce added.
A stimulus bill is not likely to be on Obama’s desk by Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, as some lawmakers had originally hoped.
Still, the president-elect said it was urgent that Congress act quickly and without partisan politics, adding that now is not the time for earmarks and unnecessary spending.
“If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years,” he said.
“In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.”
Obama called for increased government transparency, and vowed that government spending reports would be available to the public online.
This would work to break down barriers of mistrust and a lack of confidence that the people have had in the government and the unregulated private sector the past few years.
“We cannot have a solid recovery if our people and our businesses don’t have confidence that we have our fiscal house in order,” Obama said.
– By David Tanner, staff writer