JENNIFER LOVEN
Associated Press
January 8, 2009

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) – President-elect Barack Obama warned of dire and long-lasting consequences if Congress doesn’t pump unprecedented dollars into the national economy, making an urgent pitch Thursday for his mammoth spending proposal in his first speech since the election.

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“In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse” if Washington doesn’t go far enough to address the spreading crisis, the Democrat said as fresh economic reports showed an outlook growing increasingly grim.

Since his November election, Obama has deferred to President George W. Bush on foreign policy matters such as the Middle East. But, with the worsening of the economic situation, Obama has waded deeply into domestic issues as he works to generate support for his plan to create jobs and jolt the economy into recovery.

In the speech at George Mason University outside Washington, Obama asked Congress to work with him “day and night, on weekends if necessary” to pass a revival plan within the next few weeks so that it can be ready for his signature shortly after he takes office on Jan. 20.

As Obama spoke, his economic advisers were on Capitol Hill to brief Democratic lawmakers on details of his economic plan. Senate Finance Committee members met privately to assess his proposals. The Senate Democratic caucus planned a late afternoon meeting, followed by a news conference by Majority Leader Harry Reid and other caucus leaders.

The president-elect cast blame on “an era of profound irresponsibility that stretched from corporate boardrooms to the halls of power in Washington.” But he added, “The very fact that this crisis is largely of our own making means that it is not beyond our ability to solve.”

“I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible,” he said.

Obama laid out goals of doubling the production of alternative energy over three years, updating most federal buildings to improve energy efficiency, making medical records electronic, expanding broadband networks and updating schools and universities.

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