WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama signaled Sunday he will move urgently and aggressively to rescue the plunging economy, demanding swift passage by Congress of a massive two-year spending and tax-cutting recovery program.
Obama's plans, outlined by his transition team on television talk shows, could put aside his campaign pledge to repeal a Bush tax cut for the wealthy. With the downturn in the economy, those tax cuts may remain in place until they are scheduled to die in 2011, said William Daley, an economic adviser. "That looks more likely than not," he said.
During the campaign, Obama said he would pay for increased tax relief by raising taxes on people making more than $250,000.
Obama aides called on lawmakers to pass, by the Jan. 20 inauguration, legislation that meets Obama's two-year goal of saving or creating 2.5-million jobs. Democratic congressional leaders said it's a priority when Congress convenes Jan. 6.
Though Obama aides declined to discuss total cost, it probably would far exceed the $175-billion he proposed earlier. Some economists and lawmakers have argued for a two-year plan as large as $700-billion, equal to the Wall Street bailout Congress approved last month.
"I don't know what the exact number is, but it's going to be a big number. It has to be," said Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee.
With the wounded economy worsening, the Obama team's new assertiveness was a recognition he needed to soothe financial markets with signs of leadership. It also foreshadowed a more hands-on role by Obama to influence congressional action during the transition.
"We don't have time to waste here," Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said.
Information from McClatchy Newspapers was used in this report.