8 Feb 2009

Obama welcomes Senate deal but urges speed

5:20 am on 8 February 2009

President Obama has praised a group of moderate senators from both major American political parties who came up with a deal aimed at getting his economic stimulus package into law.

At the same time he has blamed Republican policies for pushing the United States into crisis in the first place.

Senate Democrats agreed late on Friday to trim spending proposals and support tax cuts in a bill that will go to a vote on Tuesday.

The original proposal of injecting $US937 billion into the economy was reduced to $US780 billion by culling what critics, mostly Republicans, called billions of dollars in unwarranted spending.

"Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate and responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands," the President said in his weekly radio address.

But he 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 stimulus plan is expected to win the support of only a handful of the Senate's minority Republicans.

'Crisis could become catastrophe'

Mr Obama said that the legislation deserved scrutiny but that speed trumped perfection. He would like the final package to be worked out with the House of Representatives and on his desk by 16 February.

"If we don't move swiftly to put this plan in motion," he said, "our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe."