President-elect Barack Obama addresses journalists in his first press conference. He is flanked by Vice President-elect Joe Biden and incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (Source: Getty Images)
President-elect Barack Obama called on the Bush administration to work to quickly enact an economic stimulus plan as he pledged he would tackle the problems of an ailing economy “head on.”
He said if a package is not passed in the coming weeks by the lame duck administration “it will be durthe first thing I get done when I take office.”
“We need a rescue plan for the middle class that invests in immediate efforts to create jobs and provides relief to families that are watching their paychecks shrink and their life savings disappear,” he said, as he was flanked by his economic team, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and newly appointed chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. “A fiscal stimulus plan that will jump-start economic growth is long overdue –- and we should get it done.”
He said if a package is not passed in the coming weeks by the lame duck administration, “it will be the first thing I get done when I take office.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats will try to push through a package already in Congress later this month.
Obama outlined a plan to boost consumer confidence and inject aid into the middle class. During the wide- ranging news conference, he also spoke out about the rising jobless claims, foreign policy and taxes as he prepares for the White House.
“The 240,000 jobs lost in October marks the 10th consecutive month that our economy has shed jobs,” he said. “In total, we’ve lost nearly 1.2 million jobs this year, and more than 10 million Americans are now unemployed.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment surged 6.5% in October, marking a 14-year high.
Obama has made assisting the ailing auto industry weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars in the U.S. “I have asked my team to explore what we can do under current law and whether additional legislation will be needed for this purpose.
Ford Motor Co. said earlier today that it lost $129 million in the third quarter as the automaker burned through $7.7 billion and made plans for more job cuts. General Motors Corp. also reported it lost $2.5 billion in the same period and warned that it could run out of cash in 2009 if the economic turmoil doesn’t abate. Ford, GM, and Chrysler have requested low-interest loans from the government to aid in weathering the economic slowdown. Obama pledged during the third presidential debate to make Detroit a top priority.
“The news coming out of the auto industry this week reminds us of the hardship it faces –- hardship that goes far beyond individual auto companies to the countless suppliers, small businesses, and communities throughout our nation who depend on a vibrant American auto industry. The auto industry is the backbone of