SCOTT SIMON, host:
Now, sometime before yesterday's job numbers were released, President-elect Obama had been promising to try to revitalize this nation's economy. And today in his radio address, he laid out some specifics.
(Soundbite of radio address)
President-elect BARACK OBAMA: We will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We'll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways. And we'll set a simple rule: use it or lose it. If a state doesn't act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they'll lose the money.
SIMON: NPR's news analyst Juan Williams joins us now. Juan, thanks very much for being with us.
JUAN WILLIAMS: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: This sounds like a very ambitious plan. And even though Democrats will control Congress - do now - but will control it by even a greater majority, obviously, next month, how do you see a plan this ambitious and expensive being perceived with the government already committed to so many billions in bailouts?
WILLIAMS: It's a question of speed. How quickly do you have an infusion of capital into the economy that really makes a difference in terms of helping to stop what Chris was talking about in terms of a spiral, a downward spiral? If you can put money in place that is guaranteed to actually be used right away - and this is what President-elect Obama was talking about to the governors on Tuesday - do you promise to use the money immediately when it comes to infrastructure? And the governors said, absolutely, we'll get on the ball.
But from Obama's perspective, if they don't get on the ball, then people will say this is a long-term responsibility, obligation that could further drag down the economy. So it's all a matter of speed. Some other plans that he has, like a tax credit right now for companies that would create jobs - $3,000 for every new full-time employee - I think that's going to be well received, Scott. And I think you'll see the Democratic Congress act quickly.
SIMON: Let me ask you about that because Mr. Obama says they want to create good jobs, not ones that just might disappear - two and a half million in two years. What does that mean? There are people who will tell you if there is a bailout for the auto industry, those are not necessarily long-term jobs. Can you, in this economy, with technology changing the way it is, can you be certain that a job lasts?
WILLIAMS: No, and you've got to watch political language here. You get President-elect Obama talking about creating jobs and saving jobs. Now what you were just referring to in terms of the auto bailout would be saving jobs, at least temporarily. But if you look at creating jobs, he's saying he's going to create, you know, all these jobs. Well, if you think about it, since Eisenhower's first term, we've created - the economy's created about 1.5 million jobs a year. Since Ronald Reagan's first term, about 2.5 million, which is what President-elect Obama is talking about. But he's also talking about saving jobs, and especially in the short term in the course of this recession. And that's what the auto help - they're not calling it a bailout anymore, but a loan - that's what it would do, Scott.
SIMON: Politically, what if tax cuts become necessary to support some of these plans - or tax increases become necessary to support some of these plans?
WILLIAMS: Not on the cards, not in the short term. What we've seen so far, and the indications we're getting from Tim Geithner as well as Larry Summers, is that - this is the new Obama team - is that even Bush tax cuts will be allowed to stay in place into 2011. So he's going to - the president-elect's plan to cut taxes for 95 percent, that stays. But in terms of increasing taxes, that's out the door.
SIMON: OK, Juan, thanks very much. We'll talk to you next week about the transition. And by the way, you can hear and see Juan's thoughts about Governor Richardson becoming secretary of commerce by coming to youtube.com/weekendedition, all one word.
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