Obama Address Articulates Vision for 2009
Credit: “we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.”
Banking: “we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy … this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside.”
Climate: “to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.”
Auto industry: “we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it.”
Health care: “the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year. … Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come.”
Education: “this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools. … if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education … I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country – Senator Edward Kennedy.”
Budget savings: “In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.”
Social Security: “we must also begin a conversation on how to [strengthen] Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.”
What Does It Mean For The Nation’s Agenda?
Robert Borosage in HuffPost says the speech claims a new progressive center of American politics: “The president has huge challenges ahead. He’ll have to come back for a bigger stimulus. He’ll eventually have to take over the zombie banks and reorganize them. Fixing health care and energy will be truly heavy lifting. Empowering workers and other vital structural reforms have to be fought out. But the president demonstrated clearly once more that he is a leader who can educate and inspire Americans. And he uses that mastery to make the case for a progressive and active government investing in our future.”
Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky on remaining questions for health care reform: “…the devil will certainly lie in the details. How will we finance reform? Will insurance companies accept new regulations of price and coverage and a new public plan that will compete with private insurers? Will the pharmaceutical industry allow for the reimportation of safe drugs? Will ideological conservatives accept a government mandate to purchase coverage? And will business groups support a plan if it mandates employers to provide coverage?”
Get Energy Smart! NOW!!! praises the president’s clean energy vision, but cautions, “$15 billion is a tremendous amount of money compared to where we have been. It is, however, an inadequate amount of resources against our needs and our opportunities. But, this speech isn’t representing reality. Due to the stimulus package, there is easily $50+ billion in clean energy for this year. President Obama should begin speaking about $50, rather $15, billion / year and we’ll be at least in the ballpark of the (low end of the) figures we should be talking about.”
LA Times reports “educators welcome Obama’s address”: “Jonathan Schorr, partner at San Francisco-based NewSchools Venture Fund, which aims to improve public education, said, ‘That is terrific; anything that moves us in the direction of more of our students attending college is welcome and recognizes the economic realities we’re living in.’ Nancy Shulock, executive director of the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy at Sacramento State University, said, ‘We’re finally picking up on the urgency of the educational crisis in this country.’”
Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports potential 60th vote Sen. Arlen Specter “warns Obama on spending.”
Speaking of spending, Slate’s Fred Kaplan makes the case against wasting money on more F-22 fighter planes (via War and Piece): “187 have been funded. Precisely what are the scenarios that justify building more? This is the question that the Air Force has not answered, at least not publicly.”
NY Times’ David Leonhardt argues President Obama will eventually have to make a case for higher taxes: “The real uncertainty is how, in the current political climate, Mr. Obama will manage to persuade people that taxes must go up. In his speech on Tuesday night, he didn’t even try. But he doesn’t have forever to do so.”
TNR’s Noam Scheiber deems the support for a larger bank bailout the “Real News … this is the first time the administration has acknowledged it publicly. I’d guess Wall Street will react pretty favorably tomorrow.”
TNR’s Simon Johnson wanted more detail on the financial crisis: “We need to know more, for example, about how the administration wants monetary policy to be handled (as the Fed will listen), and what its global economy strategy will be (because this is a worldwide problem).”
Salon.com’s Mike Madden on other missing isses: “Some big topics didn’t come up — like immigration reform, which suddenly seems less pressing now that the recession has weakened the pull of U.S. jobs for foreigners. Or the upcoming fight in Congress about labor unions’ drive to organize workers by collecting signatures rather than holding elections, which is likely to be as bitter as any of the battles over the stimulus were”
HuffPost’s Sam Stein reports on the polls: “Instant public surveys on Barack Obama’s address before Congress showed, by and large, that the public was incredibly receptive to his speech, regardless of political party. But that did not hold true for every single study.”
Drum Major Institute offers a “comprehensive response to the President’s proposals in each policy area.”
Jindal Goes Bust
FiveThirtyEight and MyDD suggests maybe we do want to monitor volcanoes, so they don’t kill us.
Conservative Crusade Against Unemployment Insurance Fizzling
After Gov. Bobby Jindal made a factually flawed case on Sunday’s Meet The Pressopposing federal funds for state unemployment insurance, he flinches from raising the issue in his nationally televised post-presidential address response.
After Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue raises possibility of rejecting federal funds for unemployment insurance, reports surface that the state has quietly furloughed 25,000 state employees.
CitiGroup Plan “Stops Short of Outright Nationalization”
Citigroup and the US Treasury are nearing agreement on a deal that would give the federal government a stake of about 40 per cent in the troubled bank in exchange for bolstering its depleted capital base.
People close to the situation said no agreement had yet been reached and the government had yet to give its approval to the plan proposed by Citi, which stops short of outright nationalisation. But they added that negotiations between Citi’s executives and Treasury officials had made progress since the weekend and an announcement could come as early as Wednesday or Thursday…
…Insiders say the deal, revealed by the Financial Times, centres on the conversion of part of the government’s $45bn of preferred shares into Citi’s common stock – up to a stake of about 40 per cent. Other shareholders, which include sovereign wealth funds and pension funds, would also convert some of their $30bn-plus of preferred stock into shares … Crucial details, such as the price of conversion and the stake the government will hold in Citi, are still to be finalised, people familiar with the talks said.
Bloomberg reports: “[Fed chair] Bernanke told lawmakers yesterday the government would use supervision instead of shareholder control to guide major banks, and warned against dismantling their franchises”
W. Post defines different forms of nationalization, while OurFuture.org’s Susan Ozama lays out “Progressive Principles for Nationalization.”
Solis Confirmed as Labor Secretary
The ITT List’s Art Levine and OurFuture.org’s Bill Scher assess how the large bipartisan vote for Hilda Solis helps the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act.
In less favorable labor news, USA Today reports: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a state law banning local governments from letting workers use payroll deductions to fund their union’s political activities, a decision that could strike at organized labor’s ability to raise funds at local levels.”
Economic Ailments Mount
Business Week on plummeting home prices: “The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index plunged 18.2% during the final quarter of 2008, the biggest annual decline in the closely watched index’s 21-year history … The most severe declines were in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and San Francisco, which all dropped by more than 30% in December compared with December 2007.
CNN/Money.com on dwindling opportunities for college students: “In recent years, summer internship programs have become a promising avenue toward post-graduation employment. But that trend will likely reverse this year as employers pull back on hiring altogether. A majority, or 56%, of career-services officers said on-campus recruiting was down more than 10% this winter, according to a recent survey by the MBA Career Services Council.”
Not-So-Liberal NY Times Delivers Double Dose of Help to Climate Crisis Deniers
NY Times publishes a painful example of false balance inaccurately claiming climate change realists and climate change deniers both traffic in significant inaccuracy.
NY Times delivers another talking point for anti-environment conservatives, playing up the difficulties of a carbon-polluting business to comply with California’s carbon restrictions, and criticism of a state study showing overall cost savings from energy-efficiency and green jobs.
Cram-Down Moving Up
D-Day interviews Rep. John Conyers on the importance of legislation to empower bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages. “…this helps not just the poor borrower who may be locked up or laid off or their job has moved away or anything may have happened, but what we’re doing now is that we’re saying the judge has the authority to help everybody.”
Terrance Heath contributed to the making of this Breakfast