Obama says stimulus plan can save jobs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama said on Saturday an analysis of his stimulus proposals showed that up to 4 million U.S. jobs could be saved or created by 2010, nearly 90 percent of them in the private sector.

Obama said previously his estimated $800 billion plan to lift the country out of a yearlong recession would create or save 3 million jobs, but the new analysis showed that number would range between 3 million and 4 million.

“The jobs we create will be in businesses large and small across a wide range of industries,” Obama said on his weekly radio and Internet address. “And they’ll be the kind of jobs that don’t just put people to work in the short term, but position our economy to lead the world in the long-term.”

The analysis was submitted by the head of Obama’s council of economic advisers, Christina Romer, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s chief economic adviser, Jared Bernstein.

It came just after official figures showed U.S. employers slashed more than half a million jobs in December, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent and bringing the number of jobs lost last year to 2.6 million -- the most since 1945.

Obama’s top aides visited Capitol Hill on Friday to allay lawmakers’ concerns about his proposal, which would combine tax cuts, aid to states and public works projects. He has faced opposition from Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the plan because of its high cost and proposed tax cuts.

Obama said his plan would create nearly 500,000 jobs by investing in clean energy, by committing to double the production of alternative energy in the next three years and by improving the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes.

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“These made-in-America jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, developing fuel-efficient cars and new energy technologies pay well, and they can’t be outsourced,” he said.

Obama repeated his warning a recovery would not happen overnight and that the situation was likely to get worse before getting better.

In excerpts from an interview with ABC News to be broadcast on Sunday, Obama said it would also require personal sacrifice from Americans and scaling back other priorities.

“I want to be realistic here, not everything that we talked about during the campaign are we going to be able to do on the pace we had hoped,” he said in a taped interview with ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

“Everybody’s going to have (to) give,” Obama said.

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Obama said the report showed the recovery plan would also put nearly 400,000 people back to work repairing infrastructure like crumbling roads, bridges and schools and laying down miles (km) of broadband lines.

“Finally, we won’t just create jobs, we’ll also provide help for those who’ve lost theirs, and for states and families who’ve been hardest-hit by this recession,” he said.

“That means bipartisan extensions of unemployment insurance and health care coverage; a $1,000 tax cut for 95 percent of working families; and assistance to help states avoid harmful budget cuts in essential services like police, fire, education and health care.”

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Obama has not put a price tag on his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, but in the report his advisers said they were using a figure of “just slightly over the $775 billion currently under discussion.”

Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader in the U.S. Senate, said he wanted to make sure the massive proposal actually created jobs.

“We want to make sure it’s not just a trillion-dollar spending bill, but something that actually can reach the goal that he has suggested,” McConnell said on Saturday.

Although Obama did not mention it in his radio address, the report suggested that tax cuts, especially temporary ones, and fiscal relief to the states were likely to create fewer jobs than direct increases in government purchases.

Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Peter Cooney