In his weekly address, President Barack Obama hailed the Senate's apparent Friday deal on the economic stimulus plan, saying that Republicans and Democrats "responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands"—but continued to criticize Republicans for pushing what he called "tired old theories."
"In the midst of our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people were hoping that Congress would begin to confront the great challenges we face," he said. "That was, after all, what last November's election was all about."
He said the bill, set to reach a Senate vote on Monday, will get proper scrutiny in the days ahead, but that the scope and size—about $820 billion—was right, and it should be passed swiftly.
In his address, he said that the stimulus package would create 80,000 jobs for Indiana, and 485 upgraded schools and laboratories in Florida where he visits on Wednesday.
Obama surrogates fanned out yesterday to spread the sharper message that president kicked off on Thursday with his campaign-style partisan speech before House Democrats hammering Republicans for pushing tax cuts in the stimulus bill.
In the radio address he continued that line of attack. Friday's job numbers—nearly 600,000 jobs lost in January, pushing national unemployment to 7.6 percent—added more urgency to the need to pass the bill, he said:
"Let's be clear: We can't expect relief from the tired old theories that, in eight short years, doubled the national debt, threw our economy into a tailspin, and led us into this mess in the first place. We can't rely on a losing formula that offers only tax cuts as the answer to all our problems while ignoring our fundamental economic challenges – the crushing cost of health care or the inadequate state of so many schools; our addiction to foreign oil or our crumbling roads, bridges, and levees," he said. "The American people know that our challenges are great. They don't expect Democratic solutions or Republican solutions – they expect American solutions."
A bipartisan group of centrist Senators worked late into Friday evening to create the deal by scrapping $100 billion from the bill, which Republicans and some Democrats had charged had contained too much spending, and not enough of it that would quickly create new jobs.
In his address, Obama said money in spent in the bill to modernizing schools, the electric grid, and the health care system would translate swiftly into new jobs:
"That's what is at stake with this plan: putting Americans back to work, creating transformative economic change, and making a down payment on the American Dream that serves our children and our children's children for generations to come," he said. "Americans across this country are struggling, and they are watching to see if we're equal to the task before us. Let's show them that we are. And let's do whatever it takes to keep the promise of America alive in our time."