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    Obama: Huge stimulus bill only the 'beginning'

    Posted Date: 2009-02-13 21:17:41
    Published: 13/02/2009 at 11:44 PM
    WASHINGTON (AFP) -- President Barack Obama said his 789 billion dollar stimulus plan expected to be passed by Congress later Friday, was just the beginning of his efforts to rescue the crippled US economy.

    President Barack Obama addresses the Business Council in the East Room of the White House
    Even before the final version of the plan was put to the vote in the Senate and House of Representatives, Obama sought to focus attention on next priorities, including the debt-laden finance sector and the mortgage crisis.

    He said that Americans had a "once in a generation chance to act boldly and turn adversity into opportunity,'' in an address to business leaders at the White House.

    "Passing this plan is a critical step, but as important as it is, it's only the beginning of what I think all of you understand is going to be a long and difficult process of turning our economy around,'' Obama said.

    "To truly address this crisis, we will also need to address the crisis in our financial sector to get credit flowing again to families and businesses. "We need to confront the crisis in the housing sector, that has been one of the sources of our economic challenges, I will discussing that extensively soon.''

    Days after his banking bailout plan drew a skeptical response from Wall Street markets, Obama also said he would press comprehensive financial reform in the way that the government "relates to financial markets'' to restore trust and ensure there will be no repeat of the current meltdown.

    In a nod to some fiscal hawks in both Democratic and Republican parties, Obama also vowed that his administration would approach the budget in a "responsible way.''

    "We have to once again live within our means, instead of leaving debt for future generations,'' Obama told members of the Business Council, a network of chief executive officers.

    "This work will not be easy, our recovery will likely be measured in years but not months.''

    Obama however dispensed with the almost apocalyptic economic rhetoric he has employed in recent days, when he has warned of "disaster'' or "catastrophe'' if Congress did not pass the plan.

    He again invoked former president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who shepherded the United States through the 1930s Great Depression, and borrowed the brand of hopeful rhetoric he employed to restore confidence in the US economy.

    "I am absolutely confident that if we are smart and if we are bold, if we work together, if we are willing to cast aside some of the theories that have already failed us ... we can lead our nation through this transformative moment and come out stronger and more prosperous than ever before,'' Obama said.
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