Obama pushes for stimulus plan OK

In his first prime-time news conference, the president blamed banks for the recession and said that only the government can stop the "vicious cycle."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Barack Obama used his first prime-time news conference to push Congress to approve his administration's economic stimulus plan, saying only the federal government can break the "vicious cycle" now gripping the U.S. economy.

"It is absolutely true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector," Obama said. "But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life."

Obama said the plan -- a version of which passed a key Senate hurdle Monday -- was "not perfect," but would create up to 4 million new jobs.

"These will not be make-work jobs, but jobs doing the work that America desperately needs done," he said, including rebuilding roads and bridges and developing alternative energy sources.

Bank bailout: The Obama administration will require "clear oversight" for the second half of the $700 billion financial bailout program, said the president.

Obama's treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, is scheduled to announce a substantial overhaul of the bailout Tuesday.

The program, launched by the Bush administration, has come under fire for its lack of transparency.

Obama put blame for the current recession squarely on banks -- which he said were taking "exorbitant, wild risks with other people's money based on shaky assets" -- rather than consumers.

He said those risks led to a financial crisis that curtailed lending and forced businesses to lay people off, "which in turn made things worse."

"Right now, part of the problem is that nobody really knows what's on the bank's books," he said. "Any given bank, they're not sure what kinds of losses are there. We've got to open things up and restore some trust."  To top of page

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