Barack Obama: We must put people to work doing the work that needs to be done

The situation we face could not be more serious. We have inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression. Economists from across the spectrum have warned that if we don't act immediately, millions more jobs will be lost, and national unemployment rates will approach double digits. More people will lose their homes and their health care. And our nation will sink into a crisis that, at some point, we may be unable to reverse.

So we can no longer afford to wait and see and hope for the best. We can no longer posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us into this mess in the first place – and that the American people rejected at the polls this past November. You didn't send us to Washington because you were hoping for more of the same. You sent us there with a mandate for change, and the expectation that we would act quickly and boldly to carry it out – and that is exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States.

That is why I put forth a Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that is now before Congress. At its core is a very simple idea: to put Americans back to work doing the work America needs done. The plan will save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years. But not just any jobs – jobs that meet the needs we've neglected for far too long and lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth: jobs fixing our schools; computerising medical records to save costs and save lives; repairing our infrastructure; and investing in renewable energy to help us move toward energy independence. The plan also calls for immediate tax relief for 95 per cent of American workers.

I'm not going to tell you that this bill is perfect. It isn't. But it is the right size, the right scope, and has the right priorities to create jobs that will jumpstart our economy and transform it for the 21st century.

I also can't tell you with one hundred per cent certainty that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope. But I can tell you with complete confidence that endless delay or paralysis in Washington in the face of this crisis will bring only deepening disaster.

Taken from an address given by the President of the United States to the residents of Elkhart, Indiana, on Monday