- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2009

With Congress moving slower than he’d hoped, President-elect Barack Obama upped the ante on his economic recovery package Saturday, saying he now believes his plan can save or create up to 4 million jobs — a million more than he had earlier projected.

It comes a day after the federal government announced companies trimmed payrolls by another 524,000 jobs in December and unemployment hit 7.2 percent.

“It’s not too late to change course — but only if we take immediate and dramatic action,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio address.

In a new report, his transition team says his spending plan would create between 3.3 million and 4.1 million jobs. The report was released as Mr. Obama battles fellow Democrats in Congress over the size and details of the bill, which the president-elect wants to total slightly less than $800 billion but which some Democratic leaders say should near $1 trillion.

The Obama report says that even with a recovery package, unemployment will still be 7 percent at the end of 2010, but would be 8.8 percent without a recovery. Mr. Obama earlier in the week had warned of double-digit unemployment, but the report does not appear to back that claim.

The report said direct spending is better for creating jobs but those jobs would be concentrated in fields such as construction, and the government can’t properly disburse more than a certain amount of money anyway. The report said tax cuts and aid to states are the best additional course of action since they can be put in place quickly and will create jobs in all sectors of the economy.

Though Republicans and Democrats have bought into the broad outlines of the package, there are disputes over the details.

Congressional Democrats are fighting against Mr. Obama’s proposed $3,000 tax credit for businesses that retain or hire workers. And several press reports said Friday night that Mr. Obama’s team has agreed to tweak his package to double the size of energy tax breaks to at least $20 billion.

Mr. Obama said 10 percent of the jobs created or saved would be government workers such as teachers, police and firefighters. Mr. Obama said his plan’s aid to states and localities would prevent deep budget cuts that would threaten those workers.

Of the private sector jobs, 459,000 would come from investing in clean energy and modernizing buildings to be more energy efficient; 377,000 would come from spending on infrastructure; 250,000 in education; and 244,000 would come in health care. The rest would be scattered across various sectors of the economy by tax cuts and direct aid to states.

The radio address was released at 6 a.m.

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