Obama says US$3.6 trillion budget will create jobs, cut deficit(updated)

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 25 Mar 2009

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama says his ambitious US$3.6 trillion budget will put economic recovery on a stronger foundation that ensures the nation doesn't face another crisis in 10 or 20 years.

At a prime-time news conference Tuesday (Wednesday morning Malaysian time) Obama said: "We will recover from this recession."

Defending his budget from Republican critics and some in his party, Obama said his spending plan will lead to new energy jobs and less dependence on foreign oil.

He said it invests in education, health care and makes the tough choices to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.

He says the budget should not continue past policies that have led to "narrow prosperity and massive debt" - a rebuke to Republicans.

Other pointes he made:

Obama says he hasn't yet seen what changes are coming out of the House and Senate.

But he delivered his bottom-line on the budget at a Tuesday evening news conference.

Obama said the budget must move toward health care reform and include an energy policy that frees the U.S. from dependence on foreign oil.

He also says he's looking for investment in education and a reduction in the deficit.

Obama said a middle-class tax cut is already in place through the recovery package for at least two years.

And he said he never expected Congress to approve his plan without some changes. - AP

Critics questioned why the president seemed days behind the populist anger over the $165 million that were distributed to executives of the company bailed out with federal tax dollars.

Said Obama: "It took us a couple days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

He says the country can remain safe and make sure veterans have the services they deserve.

Obama says too often in recent years, returning veterans haven't been given what they need in such areas as treatment for post-traumatic stress and serious brain injuries.

He says he wants to serve those veterans and reduce military spending by keeping close tabs on the way contractors and lobbyists do business.

He told reporters at a Tuesday evening news conference that he's already targeted $40 billion in procurement savings, and that he'll continue to look for ways to reduce wasteful spending on multibillion-dollar weapons systems.

Obama says the "most important thing" that he can do for those children is make sure that their parents have jobs. And he again pointed to his plan to save or create 3.5 million jobs through his economic stimulus package.

He says in the meantime, he wants to work with states to help those who are "falling through the cracks."

He said there needs to be a "change in attitude" in the country, so that it isn't seen as "acceptable" for children and families to be homeless.

Obama was asked about the incoming government led by a prime minister who has said Palestinians are not ready for statehood.

Obama reaffirmed the U.S. goal of a two-state solution, where he said Israelis and Palestinians can live "side by side" with "peace and security."

Obama said his choice of George Mitchell as Mideast envoy was a signal that he's serious about trying to move the parties toward that goal.

Obama referred to the St. Patrick's Day White House gathering of former warring parties in Northern Ireland as proof that even when peace seems impossible, differences can eventually be overcome through persistence. - AP

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