WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House pitched Friday’s jobless report as the start to stabilization while President Barack Obama planned to push for another $5 billion to help create much-needed jobs.
Obama planned an afternoon event to announce $2.3 billion in tax credits that Congress has already approved to create some 17,000 green jobs as the nation is weighed down by an unemployment rate stuck at 10 percent. Trying to paint the White House as fighting to rebuild the economy, officials said the poor jobs report underscores the challenges the president faces.
“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” Obama said in prepared remarks. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”
“There is no greater priority for this administration than getting Americans back to work,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a statement. He said the tax credits awarded Friday would spur the private sector into investing more than $5 billion in renewable energy and clean energy technology.
Obama planned to announce tax credits for 183 projects to develop solar and wind power and energy management technologies, among others. The funding is part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package Congress approved early last year.
Obama also was expected to call upon Congress for an additional $5 billion in spending for clean energy manufacturing, an idea first proposed by Vice President Joe Biden last month.
Meanwhile, a senior White House economist said the tanking economy is already showing signs of fresh life.
“Real recoveries come in fits and starts and November was in some sense a start and December was a little bit of a fit,” Christina Romer, chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
She pointed out that the new numbers are a tenth of the job losses from a year ago and predicted real job growth before the summer.
“We’re starting to see stabilization in employment,” she said. “Obviously, the next step is job growth, we’re thinking we’re going to see that by the spring.”
Obama is also set to talk about the steps he’s taking to combat unemployment. The government says 85,000 jobs were shed in December.