US president-elect Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to take urgent steps to alleviate the pain of an economic crisis on millions of working Americans, describing the current US economic situation as a "recession."
Delivering a weekly Democratic radio address, Obama said lawmakers must address the spreading impact of the economic crisis when they meet for a final session of the year next week.
"I urge them to pass at least a down-payment on a rescue plan that will create jobs, relieve the squeeze on families, and help get the economy growing again," the president-elect said.
"In particular, we cannot afford to delay providing help for the more than one million Americans who will have exhausted their unemployment insurance by the end of this year."
Obama did not specify what kind of stimulus package he expected to be adopted by Congress, which is in a lame-duck session in the waning weeks of US President George W. Bush's administration before Obama takes office.
But he warned that if Congress failed to act, he would use his presidential powers to help bolster the ailing economy after he moved into the White House on January 20.
"Even as we dig ourselves out of this recession," Obama continued, "we must also recognize that out of this economic crisis comes an opportunity to create new jobs, strengthen our middle class, and keep our economy competitive in the 21st century."
So far, the US government has not officially described the current economic downturn as a recession.
Obama also called for adoption of a long-term investment program that would put two million Americans to work rebuilding roads, bridges, and schools.
He pointed to the need for investing 150 billion dollars to build a green energy economy that he said would create five million new jobs.
Watch President-elect Obama's first Democratic address, released on the Internet Nov. 15, 2008: