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Obama Pitches Stimulus Plan in Hard-Hit City

  • VOA News

U.S. President Barack Obama says endless congressional delays in passing an economic recovery plan will bring the country to a deepening disaster.

Mr. Obama spoke Monday to residents of a recession-hit midwestern U.S. city as part of a campaign to boost public support for his stimulus plan.

Mr. Obama told a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana that the approximately 800-billion-dollar economic recovery bill being debated in Congress is not perfect. But, he said it is the right size and has the right priorities to create jobs through spending and tax cuts.

Elkhart is a manufacturing center for recreational vehicles that has suffered heavy job losses. Its unemployment rate has surged to 15 percent, about twice the national average.

Mr. Obama also said his plan calls for tax relief for 95 percent of workers, extends unemployment insurance and subsidizes health care for unemployed people while they look for jobs.

President Obama also took questions from the audience. He told one questioner that his administration will make sure stimulus funds are spent quickly and wisely.

Later, the president holds his first prime-time news conference at the White House, giving him an opportunity to promote his economic recovery plan to a national audience.

The U.S. Senate holds a vote later Monday to end debate on its version of a stimulus plan. Majority Democrats hope to win the vote with support from several Republicans, allowing them to put the economic package to a full vote on Tuesday.

The Senate must then reconcile the draft with a different version passed earlier by the House of Representatives before the president can sign it into law. The House bill has more spending and fewer tax cuts than the Senate version.

Most Republicans oppose the stimulus proposals, saying they are too costly and should include more tax cuts.

The Obama administration is due to announce an overhaul of the government's 700-billion-dollar rescue program for the financial industry on Tuesday.

U.S. media quote people familiar with the issue as saying the new program will include a government partnership with the private sector to buy banks' troubled assets.

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