Markets See Early Lift on Infrastructure, Auto Bailout Plans

In early Monday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 211.06 points or 2.44 percent.

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama said he plans to build the largest U.S. public works spending program since the creation of the interstate highway system in the 1950s. That could bolster the economy by putting thousands of people to work building schools and other construction projects.

“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” Mr. Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Later, at a Chicago news conference to announce his nomination of former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki to head the Veteran Affairs administration, Obama said the recession is still “rippling” through the economy.

During his weekly radio address on Saturday, the president-elect outlined his vision for the infrastructure plan, which would include road, building and bridge-building components plus efforts to make buildings more energy efficient.

“First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient,” Mr. Obama said. “Second, 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.”

The plan also called for the expansion of broadband Internet access across the country, with a particular focus on updating schools and libraries.

“We’ll also renew our information superhighway,” Mr. Obama said. “It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption.”

Investors also appeared encouraged that the government is closer to passing legislation that would deliver billions in aid to America’s Big Three Detroit automakers. Congress is expected to pass a $15 billion bailout for Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., and Chrysler as soon as Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported that congressional Democrats were close to finishing legislation that would provide emergency bridge loans and other funds to the auto giants as early as next week and would set up a broad oversight program to manage the restructuring of their operations.

Among the restructuring requirements may be for the three auto leaders to oust their top executives. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the chairman of the Senate banking committee, pointed a particular finger at GM chief executive Richard Wagoner, saying he has to “move on.”

“I think you’ve got to consider new leadership,” Dodd said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “If you’re going to really restructure this, you’ve got to bring in a new team to do this, in my view.”

On Monday morning, the White House said it had made progress in talks with congressional leaders seeking to complete a rescue package for automakers and that a deal could be imminent.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration backed the idea of the president naming an “adviser” with the power to determine the automakers’ viability and also supported a proposal that would give the companies about $15 billion in government loans if they showed a path to viability, the Associated Press reported.