Obama promises 'bold' action on economy

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The Independent US

President Barack Obama today pledged "bold and swift" action on the economy and vowed that his administration would be held accountable over a £584 billion recovery plan.

After meeting business leaders in Washington this morning, Mr Obama said that he was "confident" that the economy could be turned around.

Later tonight the House of Representatives is due to vote on the President's stimulus package. It is expected that the mix of tax cuts and spending projects will clear the first hurdle, despite opposition from Republicans.

Salvaging the US economy has been high on the agenda since Mr Obama was sworn in last Tuesday.

Yesterday, he met with political opponents in a bid to lobby them to support the stimulus plan.

Today he met with chief executives of some of the US's largest companies.

Mr Obama said: "It was a sober meeting, because these companies, and the workers they employ, are going through times more trying than any we have seen in a long, long while."

"And yet, even as we discussed the seriousness of this challenge, we left the meeting confident that we can still turn our economy around."

He added that everyone needed to "chip in" if the US is to rise out of its crisis and hit out at the "sense of irresponsibility" in Washington and Wall Street that had contributed to the economy's "perilous" state.

Turning to his recovery plan, the President said he hopes to sign it into law in the next few weeks.

The £584 billion (825 billion US dollar) stimulus package consists of £389 billion (550 billion US dollars) in spending and £195 billion (275 billion US dollars) in tax cuts.

"I know that some are sceptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan. I understand that scepticism, which is why this recovery plan will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my administration accountable."

Mr Obama added: "Instead of just throwing money at our problems, we'll try something new in Washington - we'll invest in what works."

Whether his pledges will be enough to win around Republicans will be seen this afternoon as Congress debates the package. Representatives are expected to vote along party lines, with the Democrat's majority in the House seeing that the plan is passed. But it is expected that few Republicans will back the plan, despite intensive lobbying from the President yesterday.

Those against the plan claim it represents too much spending and not enough tax cuts.