25 Feb 2009

Day of reckoning here, Obama tells Congress

8:32 pm on 25 February 2009

United States President Barack Obama says the day of reckoning has arrived and America must take responsibility for shaping a better future for itself.

Mr Obama, giving his first address to Congress on Wednesday, stressed the severity of the economic crisis and told lawmakers the country must confront the challenges it faces and will emerge stronger.

He wasted little time before levelling a barrage of indirect criticism at his Republican predecessor George Bush for the country's economic plight and bloated debt.

Mr Obama said Americans had lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity. It would take bold action to revive the economy, including making investments in infrastructure, unfreezing credit markets and rescuing the banking sector.

He said more money would be needed to save the country's struggling banks, but added that the banks would be held accountable for all the money the received.

Mr Obama acknowledged that handing over more taxpayer money to Wall Street executives was an unpopular choice, but a necessary one nonetheless.

He said the impact of the recession was everywhere, but promised that the economy would bounce back. The budget he was preparing would concentrate on energy, healthcare and education - areas he singled out as critical to the country's economic future.

He described his forthcoming budget as a "blueprint" for America's


Mr Obama said he had identified $US2 trillion in savings that could be achieved in the next 10 years.

He pledged to cut the government deficit in half by the end of his first term in office.