Obama: 'If Nothing Is Done, This Recession Could Linger for Years'

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This is the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT.

President-elect Barack Obama is calling on Congress to pass an economic recovery plan in the next few weeks. He warned about the deepening recession in a speech in Virginia on Thursday, less than two weeks before he takes office.

BARACK OBAMA: "Now, I don't believe it's too late to change course. But it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years."

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the federal budget deficit this year at one trillion two hundred billion dollars. That is almost three times the size of last year's deficit. And the estimate does not include an economic stimulus plan, like the president-elect proposes.

But Barack Obama warns that without decisive action, trillion-dollar deficits will be a reality for years to come. His proposals could cost around seven hundred seventy-five billion dollars in government spending and tax cuts over two years. Some economists think the plan needs to provide as much as one trillion dollars or more to be effective.

Forty percent of the plan could come in the form of tax cuts. That provision is partly an effort to gain support from Republicans.

BARACK OBAMA: "Now I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan. Our government has already spent a good deal of money but we haven't yet seen that translate into more jobs, or higher incomes or renewed confidence in our economy. And that's why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan won't just throw money at our problems. We'll invest in what works."

Mr. Obama says the plan should save or create at least three million jobs over the next few years, mostly in private industry. It includes money for needed repairs to roads and bridges. But it would also invest in clean energy, health care and education.

Mr. Obama says his team is beginning discussions with members of Congress about how to deal with the deficit and control federal spending. He has to present his first budget proposal to Congress early next month.

He says the emergency legislation he proposes must be free of special-interest spending projects. His plan will "help struggling states avoid harmful budget cuts," he says. But he added that they must use the money to support services like police, fire, education and health care. He promises to show, online, where taxpayer money is being spent.

On Wednesday he named Nancy Killefer to a new White House position -- chief performance officer. She is a former assistant Treasury secretary currently at the management consulting company McKinsey. A big part of her job will be to look for ways to cut government waste.

And that's the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English

Source: Obama: 'If Nothing Is Done, This Recession Could Linger for Years'
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