WASHINGTON (AFP) – After launching an unprecedented spending program in a bid to forestall a meltdown of the US economy, US President Barack Obama vowed Saturday to put an equal effort into tackling the nation's trillion dollar deficits.
In his weekly radio address, Obama said that he and his administration were determined to do "all we can to get exploding deficits under control as our economy begins to recover."
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the provisional US budget deficit in fiscal 2009 will balloon to a record 1.2 trillion dollars.
The deficit for fiscal 2008 which ended in September reached 438 billion dollars, or 3.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, the office said in a report last month.
However, the figures do not include the cost of a huge 787-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan signed by Obama into law last Tuesday.
Roughly one-third of the stimulus funds will be spent on tax cuts, totalling 286 billion dollars, in an effort to boost consumer spending, a key engine of the world's largest economy.
But a further 120 billion dollars is being allocated to "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects, in such sectors as transportation, road-building, improving the power grid and renewable energy installations.
Leading Republicans and other critics said the mammoth spending plan was mortgaging the nation's future, for which America's "children and grandchildren will pay a hefty price."
But Obama said he was now determined to put spending under control, saying that work on the deficit will begin on Monday, when he will convene a fiscal summit of independent experts, unions, advocacy groups and members of Congress to discuss how the trillion-dollar deficit could be cut.
He promised to further tackle the issue in Tuesday's address to the nation, in which he planned to outline urgent national priorities
On Thursday, the White House releases a budget blueprint, which Obama said is "sober in its assessments, honest in its accounting, and lays out in detail my strategy for investing in what we need, cutting what we don't, and restoring fiscal discipline."
Obama used his radio address to again showcase his recovery plan, saying that because of it, "three and a half million Americans will now go to work doing the work that America needs done."
He announced that, starting this Saturday, employers will begin reducing taxes for 95 percent of working American families as mandated by the stimulus package.
By April, the average American family will begin to keep an additional 65 dollars each month.
"Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hard-working Americans," Obama said.
But the president acknowledged that signing the stimulus plan into law was only a first step on the road to economic recovery.
He said a complete recovery will require stemming the spread of real estate foreclosures and falling home values, stabilizing and repairing the banking system in order to restore the flow of credit to families and businesses and reforming the broken regulatory system that made the crisis possible.
According to Obama, the economy will not be able to generate sustained growth without getting deficits under control.
He argued that the country's economic problems cannot be address on a piecemeal basis, but rather as a whole, in all of their complexity.
"None of this will be easy," he cautioned. "The road ahead will be long and full of hazards. But I'm confident that we, as a people, have the strength and wisdom to carry out this strategy and overcome this crisis."
This video was posted to WhtieHouse.gov on Saturday, Feb. 21.
With wire reports.
Get Raw exclusives as they break -- Email & mobile