President Barack Obama took his case for a massive economic stimulus plan direct to the American public yesterday during a prime-time broadcast.
In the one-hour long televised news conference, the president warned that economic crisis could turn into catastrophe unless an $800bn-plus recovery bill is passed by Congress.
Laying bare the challenge ahead, Mr Obama said: “This is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill recession, we are going through the worst economic crisis since the depression.
“If there is anyone out there who still doesn’t believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they don’t know where their next paycheque is coming from.”
He said that his recovery package — a combination of tax breaks and spending projects — would save or create up to four million jobs.
This was the first criterion against which the success of the plan would be judged, he said during the briefing.
“That is what America needs most right now,” Mr Obama added.
The stimulus package took one step closer to being enacted shortly before the briefing, when the Senate voted 61 to 36 to end the debate and set up a final vote on Tuesday.
If passed, the Senate’s $827bn (£556bn) bill will have to be reconciled with an earlier version approved by the House of Representatives before President Obama can sign it off.
Mr Obama said: “After many weeks of debate and discussion, the plan that ultimately emerges from Congress must be big enough and bold enough to meet the size of the economic challenge we face right now.
“Despite all of this, the plan is not perfect. No plan is. I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans.”