Obama stimulus plan 'on target'



Barack Obama, the US president, has said a new $825bn economic stimulus plan is "on target" to be approved by the middle of February.

"We are experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis that has to be dealt with, and dealt with rapidly," Obama said as he met leaders from both major US parties at the White House on Friday.

Obama also said that he had been receiving bad news about the state of the economy during his new in-depth daily economic briefing, which he instituted after taking office on Tuesday.

"Frankly the news has not been good - each day brings, I think, a greater focus on the problems that we are having, not only in terms of job loss but also in terms of some of the instabilities in the financial system."

Obama has been hoping to secure a large bipartisan majority for the stimulus package in congress to register a major political success in the symbolic first 100 days of his administration.

But some Republicans have doubts over the size and focus of the package.

"I recognise that there are still some differences around the table and between the administration and members of congress about particular details on the plan," Obama said.

Accountability questions

Obama also warned that the second half of a $700bn bailout of financial firms being debated in congress must ensure more accountability than that implemented by the Bush administration.

He mentioned recent press reports which said some Wall Street executives at companies that had received public bailout money had recently upgraded offices and private bathrooms.

He said politicians must "put in place the kinds of reform elements, oversight, transparency, accountability, that's going to be required in order for the American people to have confidence in what we're doing".

Obama was flanked as he spoke by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, the senior Republican in the House, Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader and Mitch McConnell, his Republican counterpart.

Obama's comments came a day after Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury secretary-designate, vowed to reform the US financial system to make it stronger and more able to withstand world market turmoil.

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Ynt: Obama stimulus plan 'on target'

A lot of money...