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Obama White House outlines economic goals

President Barack Obama, the newly sworn in 44th President of the United States, waves as he and his wife Michelle walk down Pennsylvania Avenue during the inauguration parade in Washington, January 20, 2009.(Reuters) – The White House on Tuesday outlined some of President Barack Obama’s major policy objectives as he became the 44th U.S. president.

Here are some of the economic issues advanced by Obama, who has pledged to save or create more than 3 million jobs in the next few years while investing in priorities such as health care, energy and education.

ENERGY PLAN

The Obama administration aims to double production of alternative energy in the next three years. It hopes to modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million U.S. homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars in energy costs.

The administration aims to help create 5 million new jobs by investing $150 billion over the next decade to back private efforts to build clean energy sources.

The White House said another goal is to see 1 million plug-in hybrid cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon on the road by 2015, with the goal that they be built in the United States. It also pledged to increase fuel economy standards. Other goals included ensuring that 10 percent of U.S. electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025, and implementing an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

TAXES

The White House said Obama hopes to reverse most of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans put in place during the Bush administration while seeking tax cuts for poor and middle-class families. It said no family making less than $250,000 will see taxes rise. It said families making more than $250,000 will pay either the same or lower tax rates than they paid in the 1990s.

FISCAL DISCIPLINE

The White House said Obama aims to restore fiscal discipline in Washington. One step is to enforce so-called pay-as-you-go budgeting rules which require new spending commitments or tax changes to be paid for by cuts to other programs or new revenue. The White House also said “pork barrel” spending will be cut, wasteful and obsolete federal government programs will be ended and federal contracts over $25,000 will be competitively bid.

HEALTH CARE

Obama envisions changes in the U.S. health care system, which is the world’s most expensive although it trails many other countries in key quality measures. The plan is intended to strengthen employer-provided health coverage, make insurance companies accountable and ensure a patient’s choice of doctors. The president pledged to make investments to ensure that within five years all medical records are computerized, moving away from paper records in a bid for greater efficiency.

The administration wants to require insurance companies to cover pre-existing medical conditions. It also backs a new tax credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to employees. The White House seeks to allow the importation of medicines from other developed countries and increase the use of lower-cost generic drugs in public programs.

OTHER GOALS

The White House set a goal of equipping tens of thousands of schools, community colleges and public universities with advanced classrooms, laboratories and libraries.

The White House vowed to expanding broadband across the country so rural small businesses can better compete. It also pledged to invest in science, research and technology to lead to medical breakthroughs, new discoveries and new industries.

The White House posted the policy objectives at www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/.

(Reporting by Will Dunham in Washington, editing by Vicki Allen)



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