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Obama focuses on economy in radio address

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  • NEW: Bush, on radio, vows to help Obama "hit the ground running"
  • Quick action needed to start recovery, president-elect says
  • Auto industry essential, and he will help it adjust, Obama says
  • Country needs "rescue plan for the middle class," he says
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(CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama reiterated a call for fast action on the economy during the weekly Democratic radio address Saturday.

A day after stressing the economy in his first news conference since winning the presidency, Obama picked up the theme in the radio address.

Noting that nearly 1.2 million Americans have lost their jobs this year -- including 240,000 in October -- the president-elect said that "their stories are an urgent reminder that we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we must act swiftly to resolve them."

Obama vowed Friday that restoring the nation's economic equilibrium will be a major priority of his administration.

"Immediately after I become president, I'm going to confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hard-working families and restore growth and prosperity," he told reporters in Chicago, Illinois. Video Watch what Obama plans to do with the economy »

He vowed to extend unemployment benefits for workers, help families avoid foreclosure, and help small businesses and strapped state and municipal governments as well as the U.S. auto industry, which has been pounded by plummeting sales.

"The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing," he said, promising that his transition team will work to "help the auto industry adjust."

In the radio address, Obama acknowledged that "we only have one president at a time" and that President Bush remains the government's leader until Inauguration Day.

Bush also made his customary radio address Saturday. He congratulated the American people for voting on Tuesday and Obama for his election.

"I told him that he can count on my complete cooperation as he makes his transition to the White House," Bush said. "Ensuring that is transition is seamless is a top priority for the rest of my time in office."

The current president also promised to help the new administration "hit the ground running."

"Our country faces economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in," Bush said. What's your message for Obama?

Obama outlined priorities he plans to emphasize after taking office.

First, Obama said, the country needs "a rescue plan for the middle class" that creates jobs. Then his new administration will address how the financial crisis has affected other sectors of the economy.

It also will evaluate the bailout plan that Congress passed last month to make sure it is working properly and "not unduly rewarding the management of financial firms that are receiving government assistance."


In addition, he said, an Obama administration will pursue policies meant to grow the middle class and strengthen the economy.

"We can't afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign, including clean energy, health care, education and tax relief for middle-class families," Obama said.

All About Barack ObamaEconomic PolicyGeorge W. Bush

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