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Obama urges new stimulus

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama called for a major new burst of federal spending Tuesday, aiming to jolt the wobbly economy into a stronger recovery and reduce painfully persistent double-digit unemployment.

Despite Republican criticism concerning record federal deficits, Obama said the U.S. must continue to ''spend our way out of this recession'' as long as so many people are out of work. More than 7 million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession began two years ago, and the jobless rate stands at 10 percent, a statistic Obama called ''staggering.''

Congressional approval would be required for the new spending, the amount unspecified but sure to be at least tens of billions of dollars.

''We avoided the depression many feared,'' Obama said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. But, he added, ''Our work is far from done.''

It was the third time in a week the president had presided over a high-profile event on jobs, responding to rising pleas in Congress that he spend more time discussing unemployment as midterm election season draws near.

Obama proposed new spending for highway and bridge construction, for small business tax cuts and for retrofitting millions of homes to make them more energy-efficient. He said he wanted to extend economic stimulus programs to keep unemployment insurance from expiring for millions of out-of-work Americans and to help laid-off workers keep their health insurance. He proposed an additional $250 apiece in stimulus spending for seniors and veterans and aid to state and local governments to discourage them from laying off teachers, police officers and firefighters.

He did not give a price tag for the new package but said he would work with Congress on deciding how to pay for it.