Economic woes fault of 'greed, irresponsibility:' Obama - Yahoo! News
Economic woes fault of 'greed, irresponsibility:' Obama
2 hrs 41 mins ago AFP –
(AFP) – New US President Barack Obama gave notice Tuesdsay that an era of economic "greed and irresponsibility" is over as he pledged swift and bold action to kickstart the world's biggest economy.
Warning the nation cannot long prosper "when it favors only the prosperous," the new president told the cheering crowds that "everywhere we look, there is work to be done.
"Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age," Obama said in his inaugural speech.
"Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet."
The way forward, the new president pledged, was to act now.
"The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.
"We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together."
In the runup to his inauguration, Obama warned of a "tough year" ahead and a recession that will linger for much longer unless Congress takes "dramatic" action on his mammoth stimulus plan.
Key Democratic party lawmakers have agreed to support the 825-billion-dollar stimulus package, but many Republicans are skeptical, saying the deficit-ridden nation cannot afford to borrow and spend its way back to prosperity.
The US Senate has set the stage for an early victory for the new president by freeing up the second 350-billion-dollar slice of a financial bailout, leaving the House of Representatives to act this week.
Obama has said he was glad Congress had seen the "urgency" of action to act on the stimulus bill, which he hopes to have on his desk in the Oval Office by mid-February.
The package, designed to create or preserve three to four million jobs in the sinking US economy, includes billions of dollars to spark a fast track development of alternative energy industries and sources.
"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans," Obama said in his inaugural speech, in answer to concerns from Republican lawmakers who oppose big government.
Dismissing them as "stale political arguments," he said "the question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works."
He also promised to hold to account those who manage tax dollars in order to restore trust between the people and the government.
"Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill," he said, apparently seeking to deflect fears raised during the campaign that he leaned toward socialism.
"Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous," he said.
The first African-American president underlined the importance of spreading wealth by extending "opportunity to every willing heart" as part of sound economic policy, rather than charity.
Wall Street shares plunged four percent Tuesday as renewed fears about the global banking sector offset optimism surrounding Obama's inauguration. In Asia, South Korean and Japanese shares opened lower.