Obama decries stimulus plan delay

US president urges senate to pass $937bn package to revive struggling economy.

     Obama has urged politicians to pass the
    bill as quickly as possible [AFP] 

    After spending hours trying to hammer out a bipartisan compromise on the bill which aims to revive the struggling US economy, US senators suspended the debate late on Thursday.

    Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats in the senate, said he was "cautiously optimistic" about getting to vote on the bill on Friday.

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    The US president has said he wants to be able to sign the bill into law by February 16.

    Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Washington, said Obama seemed to have become more and more frustrated with Republican opposition to the deal.

    On Thursday, Obama had condemned what he described as the "petty politics" and "false theories" of the plan's critics, saying the time had come to show "leadership" over the economic crisis.

    Democrats, who have 58 of the US senate's 100 seats, need 60 votes to pass the bill without further debate.

    Chris Dodd, a Democratic senator, told Al Jazeera on Friday he was optimistic that the bill would be passed with Republican support.

    "This is the United States senate and people have their views and ideas....and its not beyond the realm of possibility that you can strike a balance here and move forward."

    But Republicans have complained that the bill is too large, contains insufficient tax cuts and is filled with spending on unnecessary projects which will not immediately create jobs.

    John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, told the senate the bill was "full of unnecessary spending".

    "The American people are figuring it out that this is not a stimulus bill, it's a spending bill, full of unexamined policy changes or policy changes that have been examined and rejected in the past and of course tax cuts that really do not stimulate the economy," he said.

    Rising unemployment

    In depth
    Meanwhile, latest US government data piled further pressure on politicians to act quickly to fix the country's faltering economy.

    Labour department figures showed on Friday that 598,000 jobs have been lost in January, the largest cut in 34 years.

    The unemployment rate also surged to 7.6 per cent.

    The White House said the figures were evidence that the US economy was "contracting greatly".

    "These numbers, and the very real suffering of American workers they represent, reinforce the need for bold fiscal action," said Christina Romer, the chairwoman of Obama's council of economic advisers.

    On Friday, Obama also named an advisory panel led by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of Federal Reserve, the US central bank, to help his efforts to rescue the economy and rebuild the country's financial system.

    The US economy is in a recession following months of market turmoil sparked by the subprime mortgage crisis, tight credit conditions and slumping global markets.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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