President Obama Focuses on Jobs, Officials Warn of Further Job Losses

Christina Romer: "We will have some down months before we have some up months."

ByHUMA KHAN via via logo
December 8, 2009, 6:29 AM

Dec. 8, 2009— -- President Obama is set to deliver a major speech on job creation this morning even as administration officials dampened expectations of a quick recovery on the employment front and warned that the situation is likely to worsen before it improves.

"What we certainly know is the economy is growing again," Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told "Good Morning America's" Diane Sawyer today. "We do know that on the jobs side, those numbers will be volatile."

"It's likely we will have some down months before we have some up months," she added.

There was a slight dip in unemployment in November, with about 11,000 jobs lost, making it the best jobs report in two years. Despite the better-than-expected numbers, the president has been cautiously optimistic on the jobs front, telling Americans repeatedly that further job losses are likely before numbers start improving.

In a speech at the Brookings Institution today, Obama will lay out his game plan to kick start job growth. Romer said the president will propose development in three different areas: infrastructure, a comprehensive program for small businesses to provide them tax credits and other incentives to boost hiring, and alternative energy and green technology.

"He's going to be talking about our ongoing efforts to try to spur private sector job creation," Romer said. "We think all these fundamentally are programs designed to get the private sector back and we think they are going to be very effective."

Romer dismissed the idea of a second stimulus package after the administration announced yesterday that the 10-year cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to save Wall Street banks would be $200 billion less than expected.

"We've been very successful in bringing stability back to the financial system and that's going to create very substantial resources for the president and the Congress to devote to the immediate priorities to the country," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in an interview with ABC News' Jake Tapper Monday.

Second Stimulus on the Way?

Geithner's comments angered some Republican critics, who argue that the money should be used to pay down the deficit, not provide another bailout.

"TARP has served its purpose. TARP ought to be ended," said former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney on CNN's "State of the Union." "We've got hundreds of billions of dollars there that is being used as a slush fund by Secretary Geithner and the Obama administration. Stop the Tarp recklessness at this point and get ourselves back to creating jobs by encouraging businesses to grow, expand their capital expenditures and hire."

The president will delve deeper today and explain that this money will allow the administration the flexibility to implement more programs, not necessarily use it for new programs, Romer said.

"You need to be careful what Secretary Geithner told us yesterday is, we are doing well on TARP," Romer said. "Nobody's talking about using that to directly invest in infrastructure or tax incentives for small businesses. What I think you'll see the president say today is that -- that is part of a fiscally responsible program where we do have room to do what we need to do for the American people, and create jobs, but do it in a fiscally responsible manner."

For small businesses, the president will propose alternatives such as a tax credit to boost hiring. For individuals, Obama will suggest incentives and rebates for homeowners that retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient.

Obama held a jobs summit at the White House last week, inviting business executives to discuss ways to create more employment.

On the infrastructure front -- an area that has received a large portion of money from the $787 billion stimulus -- Obama will push for increased investment to modernize highways and railways, bridges and tunnels, airports and seaports.

Romer said these plans are along the same lines as those proposed by the administration earlier, such as Cash for Clunkers, or extending unemployment insurance.

"It's important to realize this has been an ongoing process. We did some very dramatic actions last winter to try to stop the free fall but there have been a series of actions since then," Romer told "GMA." "And this is on that... same trajectory."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events