Obama vows to create 2.5m new jobs in two years
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US president-elect Barack Obama announced Saturday that he had ordered his economic advisers to produce an economic recovery plan to create 2.5 million new jobs over the next two years.
"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," Obama said in his weekly radio address.
Obama, who has vowed to make the economy his priority when he takes office from President George W. Bush in January, said the effort should produce 2.5 million new jobs by January of 2011 and lay the foundation of the country's economic recovery.
His announcement came two days after government data showed that new jobless claims had surged to a 16-year high, in a new sign that the world's largest economy appeared to be sliding into a deep recession.
This year, the US economy has shed 1.2 million jobs, and the president-elect warned millions more could be lost next year without urgent action.
The Federal Reserve has warned the jobless rate could climb to 7.6 percent in 2009 as the economy struggles with a sharp downturn and a global financial crisis.
Obama said he intended to put people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges, modernizing schools, building wind farms, solar panels and fuel-efficient cars.
He also plans to develop alternative energy technologies that he says can free the United States from its dependence on foreign oil and keep the US economy competitive in the years ahead.
"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."
Obama said his economic recovery plan represented "an early downpayment" on the type of reform his administration will bring to Washington.
He said he wanted to form 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."
The announcement came amid media reports that the Illinois Democrat had picked New York central banker Timothy Geithner to be his treasury secretary.
Geithner, 47, is well known to Wall Street from his role as New York Federal Reserve chief and was a career official at the Treasury Department from 1988 to 2001, serving under three administrations and rising to undersecretary for international affairs.
As the successor to Republican Henry Paulson, Geithner would become the overseer of a 700-billion-dollar bailout package for distressed banks at a time when the world's largest economy is staring at recession.
"Tim is a great choice because he brings to the job intelligence, a wealth of experience in crisis management, deep knowledge of everything that has been going on in the last year, and an ability to listen and learn," Alan Blinder, a former Fed vice-chairman and now a Princeton University economist, told McClatchy Newspapers.
The reports of Geithner's selection appeared to have reassured investors, resulting in the Dow Jones industrial stock index jumping nearly 500 points on Friday.
Former treasury secretary Larry Summers and ex-Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker are likely to play key roles as economic advisors to the new president.
It was not immediately clear, though, if Summers and Volker would participate in drafting the recovery plan.
The president-elect predicted in his address that ensuring passage of his plan by Congress would not be easy and he would need the support of both Democrats and Republicans.
"But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action," he said. "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."
The following video was released Saturday, Nov. 22 on President-elect Obama's Change.gov.
Download video via RawReplay.com