WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday pitched Americans on more details of an economic stimulus plan that could exceed $825 billion, hoping he can ease Republican resistance in Congress by building public support for spending on items as varied as health coverage, port security and home weatherization.
In his weekly address, posted on the Web site of the White House, the president also painted a dire picture of the consequences of inaction.
"If nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits," he said. "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. And we could lose a generation of potential, as more young Americans are forced to forgo college dreams or the chance to train for the jobs of the future."
His videotaped address came a day after he met with congressional Democrats and Republicans at the White House to hash out differences, and Republicans pushed for more tax cuts in place of spending. All sides say they would like to pass a package by mid-February.
Obama acknowledged people's concern about the scope of the proposed stimulus spending at a time when the billions Congress and the Bush administration threw at bailing out Wall Street have had dubious results.
"I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan must and will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my administration accountable for these results," the president said. He promised detailed public disclosure through a Web site about where the stimulus spending goes.
He also included some proposals that might appeal to Republican and business constituencies.
Among the specifics he mentioned Saturday in the address and a short report posted on the White House site:
_Health care coverage for 8.5 million people, either through a tax credit to buy COBRA if they lose their jobs or through Medicaid.
_Leveraging $100 billion in private sector clean energy investments and doubling renewable energy generating capacity over three years.
_Expanding the Child Tax Credit.
_The largest weatherization program in history, making 2.5 million homes and three-fourths of federal buildings more energy efficient.
_Spending on 90 ports to beef up national security and increase trade, extending electricity transmission lines, putting 40 million "smart meters" in U.S. homes and expanding broadband access to millions of Americans.
In the Republicans' weekly address, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said his party wants to work with Obama and congressional Democrats but that Republicans prefer "fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving government spending programs."
The Republicans' competing plans have included cutting income tax rates and providing a tax credit for home purchases. Boehner said for now, the Democrats' plan "is chock-full of government programs and projects, most of which won't provide immediate relief to our ailing economy."
Obama has said the stimulus could preserve as many as 4 million jobs, 90 percent in the private sector, and that three-fourths of the money would be spent within 18 months.
"We're committed to working with President Obama in search of swift, bipartisan action that creates jobs," Boehner said, "not another Washington program that overpromises and under-delivers."
ON THE WEB
To view President Obama's address, go to:
To read the report on the recovery plan, go to:
MORE FROM MCCLATCHY
McClatchy Newspapers 2008