With a successful US Senate vote on his economic stimulus bill in sight, President Barack Obama warned on Saturday that quick action was needed to avoid economic catastrophe and blamed Republican policies for pushing the country into crisis.
Senate Democrats agreed on Friday to trim spending proposals and support tax cuts in an $800 billion bill that was to go to a vote on Tuesday. They rolled back their earlier $937 billion proposal to cull what critics, mostly Republicans, called billions of dollars in unwarranted spending.
Obama praised the group of moderate senators from both political parties for coming up with the deal.
“Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate and responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands,” he said in his weekly address.
“In the midst of our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people were hoping that Congress would begin to confront the great challenges we face. That was, after all, what last November’s election was all about.”
Obama poured scorn on Republican critics who said the bill lacked enough tax-cutting measures and pointed his finger squarely at the polices of predecessor George W. Bush, for dragging the country into recession.
The new chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, promoted tax cuts and accused Democrats of seeking to spend too much with the stimulus package.
“American families are doing their best to balance their own budgets and pay their mortgages. The fastest way to help those families is by letting them keep more of the money they earn,” said Steele.
“If we don’t move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe,” Obama said.