Obama starts country's economic fix

January 5, 2009 7:07:22 PM PST
President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration is just two weeks away and on Monday he was on Capitol Hill for crisis talks with congressional leaders over the nation's economy.

President-Elect Barack Obama (D) says the economy is very sick and that the people's business cannot wait. Before the day was over, he predicted new spending and tax cuts will pass.

"The situation is getting worse, we got to act boldly and we have to act swiftly. We cannot delay," said President-elect Obama.

The President-Elect met with his economic advisors and then went to Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress to pass his economic stimulus package, throwing partisan politics out the window.

"We don't have a Republican or Democratic problem. We have American problems," said President-elect Obama.

He says there isn't time to waste. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) wants something ready by the inauguration in two weeks.

"And at that time we will be able to have signed into law legislation which will improve the lives of the American people," said Speaker Pelosi.

Republican leaders have expressed concerns about the costs. The proposal calls for tax cuts that reach $300 billion with investments in the infrastructure, rebuilding roads, and education.

"This is spending that will directly put people to work," said Robert Reich Ph.D., from U.C. Berkeley's Goldman School.

Robert Reich was Bill Clinton's labor secretary. Now he's a professor at U.C. Berkeley.

"The Federal Reserve has tried everything. Interest rates can't get much lower and so that government as purchaser of last resort has got to be in there getting the economy going," said Reich.

"Things are going downhill fast and we need to make the investments in our future," said David Dowell Ph.D.

Dowell is a professor of regional planning at U.C. Berkeley, an author, and an expert on infrastructure policy and planning worldwide.

"I'd like to see some of the stimulus package-at least in terms of California, be devoted to helping us improve our productivity and also make California more sustainable," said Dowell.

He believes states can handle the money more effectively than the feds and that will help make sure it doesn't become funding for political pork. And he notes California has really let things go.

"Are we almost like a third world country here now?" asked ABC7's Don Sanchez.
"We're getting there. We're moving in that direction," said Dowell.

Reich says he's concerned with unemployment and says it could hit 10 percent by the end of the year, if the government fails to do something soon.