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US economy will get worse before recovering: Obama

President-elect Barack Obama said the US recession will worsen before a recovery takes hold and that he will offer a plan to boost the economy "equal to the task" without worrying about a widening of the budget deficit.

business Updated: Dec 08, 2008 21:51 IST

President-elect Barack Obama said the US recession will worsen before a recovery takes hold and that he will offer a plan to boost the economy "equal to the task" without worrying about a widening of the budget deficit.

Dealing with the loss of jobs, frozen credit markets, falling home prices and other signs of economic turmoil is “my number one priority,” Obama said on NBC's “Meet the Press” programme, which aired on Sunday. Later at a Chicago news conference he said “more aggressive steps” are needed to cope with the housing crisis.

Even with the prospect of a federal budget shortfall approaching $1 trillion, “we can’t worry, short term, about the deficit,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get the economy moving.”

The economy has shown signs of worsening since the November 4 election. The US labour department reported on December 5 that employers cut 5,33,000 workers last month, bringing job losses this year to 1.91 million. US stocks fell for the fourth time in five weeks as the worsening job market added to concern the recession is deepening.

“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” Obama, 47, who takes office on January 20, said. In Chicago, Obama said the recession is still "rippling" through the economy.

Obama also said in Chicago that his economic team is working on plans to address the housing crisis, noting that he hasn't seen the “kind of aggressive steps in the housing market to stem foreclosures” that he wants to see from President George W Bush. "If it is not done during the transition, it will be done by me," Obama said.

“We will emerge stronger than we are right now,” Obama said.

While Obama didn't offer any new details of his recovery plan, he reiterated a commitment he made in his November 6 weekly radio address to the biggest investments in the nation's infrastructure since the President Dwight D Eisenhower created the interstate highway system a half-century ago.

Obama said state governors have many such projects that are "shovel ready," meaning they could be undertaken swiftly and have an immediate impact on jobs. He also indicated that proposals — which could include updating health care administration and public schools — would be reviewed as part of his broader plan.

He declined to specify a price tag for the stimulus, saying his advisers are “busy working, crunching the numbers, looking at the macroeconomic data to make a determination as to what the size and the scope of the economic recovery plan needs to be. But it is going to be substantial.”