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Obama launches campaign to pass economy bill; major speech today. Excerpts

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Excerpts of President-elect Barack Obama's Major Speech on the Economy Today -
As prepared for delivery

Thursday, January 8, 2009

George Mason University-Fairfax, VA

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

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

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, 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.


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 8, 2009 7:17 AM.

Burris hurdles to clear to secure Senate seat; testifies today about state contracts was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama warns of worsening economy in major speech. Transcript is the next entry in this blog.

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