President Obama Saturday morning called on the Senate to quickly pass his more than $825 billion economic stimulus plan, saying Americans “have little patience” for political bickering and noting that while the bill isn’t perfect, it can jumpstart job creation.
Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio address it is “good news” the U.S. House passed his bill this week, though he did not mention that zero Republicans voted for it.
“I will continue working with both parties so that the strongest possible bill gets to my desk. With the stakes so high we simply cannot afford the same old gridlock and partisan posturing in Washington,” he said.
The president said the measure will “begin the long, hard work of lifting our economy out of this crisis,” but added, “No one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy. So just as we jumpstart job creation, we must also ensure that markets are stable, credit is flowing, and families can stay in their homes.”
Mr. Obama used the address to announce that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner soon will lay out his plan for the more than $300 billion remaining of the financial bailout package Congress passed late last year.
It will revive the financial system by getting banks to loan to small businesses and by lowering mortgage costs, the president said. He also reiterated his criticism of the $20 billion in “shameful” bonuses that some Wall Street executives received for 2008 despite taking the government’s bailout money.
“We’ll ensure that CEOs are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery,” Mr. Obama said, promising he would insist on “unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight, and clear accountability — so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results.”
He said many are “rightfully” frustrated by the financial bailout package because it lacked transparency.
“While I’m committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed. The road to recovery demands that we all act responsibly, from Main Street to Washington to Wall Street,” Mr. Obama said.
The administration also posted video of the president’s address at WhiteHouse.gov.
Though Mr. Obama did not mention the word “Democrat” or “Republican,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell used the Republican weekly radio address to blast the “massive bill” that he said “looks more like a $1 trillion Christmas list” for Democrats.
Mr. McConnell noted that Mr. Obama met with Republican Congressional leaders earlier in the week and said the president “is counting on members of Congress to come together in a spirit of bipartisanship to act,” but highlighted pork spending in the stimulus measure.
“The plan that Democrats in Congress put forward this week falls far short of the president’s vision for a bill that creates jobs and puts us on a path to long-term economic health,” he said, detailing $20 million in the bill for the removal of fish-passage barriers, $25 million to improve All Terrain Vehicle trails, $34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce building in Washington and $600 million to buy new cars for government workers.
“At a time when Americans are worried about holding onto their jobs and their homes, and learning to live with less, politicians in Washington shouldn’t be spending taxpayer dollars on new cars for government workers or sprucing up federal buildings in Washington,” he said, outlining GOP tax cut proposals and to offer government-backed fixed mortgages to lower monthly payments.
“Republicans are committed to working with President Obama to steer Americans out of the current economic troubles.”
As he has many times previously, Mr. Obama used the address to lay out dismal economic news from recent days — more job losses and an economy that shrunk nearly 4 percent in the last quarter — and said it is likely to get worse.
“These are not just numbers,” the president said. “Behind every statistic there’s a story. Many Americans have seen their lives turned upside down. Families have been forced to make painful choices. Parents are struggling to pay the bills. Patients can’t afford care. Students can’t keep pace with tuition. And workers don’t know whether their retirement will be dignified and secure.”
He tried to lift spirits at the close, promising, “my administration is dedicated to alleviating your struggles and advancing your dreams.”