President-elect Barack Obama's weekly address to the nation, released this morning, outlines an initiative that provides 2.5 million new American jobs rebuilding America's long-ignored infrastructure (full-text transcript below the fold):
[CNN] American workers will rebuild the nation's roads and bridges, modernize its schools and create more sources of alternative energy, creating 2.5 million jobs by 2011, Obama said in the weekly Democratic address, posted on his Web site.
"These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis," he said. "These are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long."
Details of the plan are still being worked out by his economic team, Obama said, but he hopes to implement the plan shortly after taking office January 20. Video Watch how Obama's Cabinet is taking shape »
He referred to figures out this week showing that new home purchases in October were the lowest in 50 years, and that 540,000 new unemployment claims had been filed -- the highest in 18 years.
"We must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again," he said. More than a million jobs have been lost this year, he said, and "if we don't act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year."
President-elect Obama demonstrates you don't have to wear a cowboy hat to be able to grab a bull by the horns.
A few days after the election I called for Obama's administration to forget any effort to reign in the federal deficit for the time being, and to spend until it hurts to get the nation's economy back on track. Obama's proposed initiative seems to recognize that tax dollars spent now creating new jobs is priority one.
Full-text transcript and additional discussion follows:
The news this week has only reinforced the fact that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions. Financial markets faced more turmoil. New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century. Five-hundred-forty-thousand more jobless claims were filed last week, the highest in 18 years. And we now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further.
While I'm pleased that Congress passed a long-overdue extension of unemployment benefits this week, we must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again. We have now lost 1.2 million jobs this year, and if we don't act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.
There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it's likely to get worse before it gets better. But January 20th is our chance to begin anew -- with a new direction, new ideas, and new reforms that will create jobs and fuel long-term economic growth.
I have already directed my economic team to come up with an Economic Recovery Plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 -- a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office. We'll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We'll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.
These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis; these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long. And they represent an early down payment on the type of reform my administration will bring to Washington -- a government that spends wisely, focuses on what works, and puts the public interest ahead of the same special interests that have come to dominate our politics.
I know that passing this plan won't be easy. I will need and seek support from Republicans and Democrats, and I'll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle.
But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action. Right now, there are millions of mothers and fathers who are lying awake at night wondering if next week's paycheck will cover next month's bills. There are Americans showing up to work in the morning only to have cleared out their desks by the afternoon. Retirees are watching their life savings disappear and students are seeing their college dreams deferred. These Americans need help, and they need it now.
The survival of the American Dream for over two centuries is not only a testament to its enduring power, but to the great effort, sacrifice, and courage of the American people. It has thrived because in our darkest hours, we have risen above the smallness of our divisions to forge a path towards a new and brighter day. We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together. That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next president of the United States, I will. Thank you.
You don't have to wear a cowboy hat to demonstrate the ability to grab a bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground.
Congress needs to put the plan together and have this ready for President Obama's signature the afternoon of his inauguration, but just the act of forming the plan will itself begin to restore confidence, and hopefully reverse the dismal prospects for retailers facing the all-important holiday shopping season.
And Republicans need to be get behind Obama's effort and demonstrate a willingness to put their shoulders to the wheel and help, rather than play obstructionist games. I've seen some indication that after standing by and helping Bush blunder billions upon billions with his phony war on terror for years some so-called "conservatives" have decided it's time to reign in federal spending.
It isn't. It's time to write checks left and right and spend, spend, spend until the economy begins a recovery. Once the recovery starts our great economic engine will rev up on its own -- that's the beauty of free enterprise.
Stimulating the American economy from the ground up by creating jobs and putting paychecks in American workers hands is a tide that lifts all boats, not just the defense and oil industry corporations favored by the Republicans, and it's long overdue.
Our nation has played favorites with the rich and well-placed for eight long years, and we're paying a heavy price for that.
Change has arrived.
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