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Obama hopes to boost economy with high-speed rail

President Barack Obama
President Obama wants to boost train travel in the US

US President Barack Obama has repeated a vow to improve the economy, as he sought to boost confidence a day after his first State of the Union speech.

During a visit to Florida, Mr Obama said: "We're not going to rest until we've rebuilt an economy in which... businesses are hiring again."

He also announced $8bn (£5bn) in grants for high-speed rail developments.

Mr Obama said he wanted to get Americans working on the country's infrastructure.

The White House says that the high-speed rail projects will create or save thousands of jobs in engineering, manufacturing, planning and maintenance.

"It creates jobs immediately and it lays the foundation for a vibrant economy in the future," Mr Obama said at a town hall-style meeting in Tampa.

Except for the line between Boston and Washington, there are no high-speed rail routes in the US.

Thirteen rail corridors in 31 states are to receive funds, but only California's plans call for trains with maximum speeds exceeding 200mph (322km/h).

Congress set aside funding for the rail projects, which Mr Obama said in April would "change the way we travel in America", as part of the $787bn economic stimulus package approved in 2009.

Americans 'hurting'

At the town-hall meeting at the University of Tampa, Mr Obama echoed a theme of his State of the Union speech by calling for improved relations with the Republicans.

"Our political dialogue in this country has always been messy and noisy," he said.

"We're all Americans. We all should anticipate that the other person, even if they disagree with us, has the best of intentions. We don't have to call them names. We don't have to demonise them."

In his speech on Wednesday, he said Americans were "hurting" and admitted he had not yet delivered on his election pledge of change.

Mr Obama called for new spending and tax cuts that he said would build on the stimulus package and easily push the cost of all stimulus measures since he took office to over $1 trillion.

The president said creating jobs had to be his administration's "number one focus in 2010" and said he wanted Congress to pass a jobs bill "without delay".

Mr Obama said he had taken office a year ago "amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt".

"The devastation remains," he added.

"One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. For those who had already known poverty, life has become that much harder."



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Sydney Morning Herald Obama tax plan to boost jobs - 2 hrs ago
Washington Post Obama takes retooled agenda on road after speech - 3 hrs ago
Miami Herald President Obama addresses raucous Tampa crowd - 4 hrs ago



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