Obama expects speedy passage of U.S. stimulus package
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama said Monday he expects Congress will approve a multibillion-dollar financial stimulus package within two weeks of his taking office.
Obama, who said the economy was "bad and getting worse," spoke before meeting with congressional leaders in Washington, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
"The economy is very sick. The situation is getting worse … We have to act and act now to break the momentum of this recession."
He said he expects to sign the rescue bill by the end of January or the first of February.
The tax cuts for individuals and businesses would account for about 40 per cent of the stimulus package, which is expected to be between $675 billion and $775 billion, according to a number of published reports.
The reported tax cuts, bigger than expected, could be a way to garner support from Republicans who have been critical of the amount of spending in the package.
The package would include tax cuts of $500 to $1,000 for middle-class individuals and couples, and a total of more than $100 billion for businesses, officials said.
The plan would also provide one-year tax credits amounting to $40 billion to $50 billion for companies that hire new workers.
Obama also met with a bipartisan group of key legislators to discuss the package, which he has named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.
"The reason we are here today is because the people's business cannot wait," Obama said as he arrived on Capitol Hill. "The Speaker and her staff have been extraordinarily helpful in working with our team so we can shape an economic recovery plan and start putting people back to work."
Obama had wanted to have a package ready for him to sign when he takes office Jan. 20. But congressional leaders said it won't be ready until mid-February at the earliest.
Aides to Obama said he will also give a speech in Washington later this week to explain to the public the urgent need for the package, Politico.com reported. He will stress that if nothing is done, unemployment could rise above 10 per cent.
On the weekend, Obama said the No. 1 goal of the plan is to create three million jobs, with more than 80 per cent in the private sector.
With files from the Associated Press