Obama on the Economy: ‘The Situation Is Getting Worse’

By Lindsey Ellerson

Jan 5, 2009 5:40pm

ABC NEWS’ JAKE TAPPER, STEPHANIE SMITH AND JENNIFER DUCK REPORT:

After meeting with his economic team, President-elect Barack Obama warned, "…we are in a very difficult spot.  The economy is bad.  The situation is getting worse."

Flanked by economic advisers Obama said, "It’s clear that we have to act and we have to act now to address this crisis and break the momentum of the recession or the next few years could be dramatically worse."

When questioned about the transparency of an economic package that is expected to cost around $800 billion and be passed in just a few short weeks, Obama stood strong predicting "unprecedented transparency."

"We are confident that we can accomplish unprecedented transparency, even as we move this package forward," adding his new economic team hopes to put detailed information about economic projects online.

After scheduled meetings with both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, Obama made it clear both democrats and republicans have to work to solve the economic crisis.  "This is not a Republican problem or a Democratic problem at this stage.  This is an American problem, and we’re all going to have to chip in and do the hard work that’s required and what the American people expect of us."

"The reason I’m here today is that we are going to present our latest ideas to Congress," Obama said between meetings at the Capitol. "We expect them to begin this week on this process.  And, you know, I expect to sign a bill to create 3 million jobs for the American people shortly after I get inaugurated."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t commit to an exact date for the bill saying, "I won’t make an announcement of how soon but we all know the tasks at hand."

Republicans were optimistic about the tax cuts but concerned about size of the package.

"I think we’re glad that the president elect believes that tax cuts are in fact simulative and will in fact get our economy moving," House Republican Leader John Boehner said after the meeting.  "I’m a little concerned myself about the overall size of the package. It’s not going to paid for by the current generation. It’s going to be left to our children and grandchildren."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn’t seen the package but said the president-elect "has indicated that there’s at least 20 economists that he’s talked with, and all but one of those believe it should be from $800 billion to $1.2 trillion or $1.3 trillion."

In response to Reid’s comments, Obama officials told ABC News they don’t anticipate a number in the trillions but say $800 billion wouldn’t be too far off.

When a reporter questioned the President-elect’s politics behind his tax cut plan, he played defense.  "The notion that me wanting to include relief for working families in this plan is somehow a political ploy, when this is — was the centerpiece of my economic plan, for the last two years, doesn’t make too much sense," he responded.

The President-elect urged Congress to put politics aside.  "I know that, regardless of our positions and our parties, everybody has the interests of their constituents at heart.  Everybody is motivated by doing what’s best for their country," he said.  "And we may have some disagreements, but I think it’s going to be possible for us to work out those disagreements in the atmosphere of civility and comity.  And that’s going to be my goal."

"I’m confident we can do this, and we have to do this," Reid said calling the meeting with the incoming president "terrific."

–Jake Tapper, Stephanie Smith and Jennifer Duck

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