Washington President-elect Barack Obama countered critics with an analysis Saturday by his economic team showing that a program of tax cuts and spending like he’s proposed would create up to 4.1 million jobs, far more than the 3 million he has insisted are needed to lift the country from recession.
Congressional Republicans reacted skeptically, just as Obama acknowledged that he would be forced to recant some of his campaign promises given the economic crisis facing the country. Even the president-elect’s own economists acknowledged their two-year estimates could be wrong.
The 14-page analysis, which was posted online, says estimates are “subject to significant margins of error” — because of the assumptions that went into the economic models and because it is not known what might pass Congress.
“These numbers are a stark reminder that we simply cannot continue on our current path,” Obama said in his weekly radio and YouTube broadcast address.
“If nothing is done, economists from across the spectrum tell us that this recession could linger for years and the unemployment rate could reach double digits — and they warn that our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world,” he said.
Obama has provided few details of his $775 billion plan so far. This fresh report does not include the specific construction of his tax cuts, the amounts dedicated to state aid or public works — key questions that Obama aides have closely held.
On Saturday, economic aides and advisers declined to lay out even rough estimates for the plan’s components. They said they worked with broad instructions from Obama but didn’t want to limit negotiations with congressional leaders by outlining their limits in public.
“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,” Obama told ABC’s “This Week” for an interview set to air today.
For a second time since his election, Obama increased the number of jobs his jobs program would create, taking the number to as many as 4.1 million jobs saved or created — a benchmark his critics charge cannot be measured. During the campaign, he promised only 1 million new jobs.
The analysis came out one day after news the unemployment rate had jumped to 7.2 percent, the highest in 16 years. The nation lost 524,000 jobs in December, bringing the total job loss for last year to 2.6 million, the largest since World War II.
GOP lawmakers have insisted on carefully targeting any aid and on a politically popular tax cut for the middle class, as well as loans to states.
“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,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate’s top Republican.
Obama’s plan has met with lukewarm support from lawmakers in general, despite economic news that has dominated the new administration even before it begins.