Quotes and notes from “President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House”*:
I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has — a friend, a neighbor, a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.
No problems here except the simple fact during recessions enrollment into institutions of higher learning go up, not down, as the opportunity cost of going to school is substantially reduced.
But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:
We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.
Of course, but will we do so fast or slow? What costs will we foolishly burden ourselves with in faint hope of relieving our current discomfort?
The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. And though all these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.
Energy might cause a future recession, but it’d be really hard to lay high gas prices to blame for the present situation considering energy prices went down leading into the downturn. We do spend a lot on healthcare and there’s no simple answer to the problem (say “reform” all you like, once you start putting specific proposals on the table you suddenly realize how hard easy answers can be). And I find it funny Obama is complaining about schools, an institution dominated by liberal thought in both form and execution.
In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity,
Sounds a lot like what the “stimulus” bill promised, short term gains…
…where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future.
Again, the greatest transfer of wealth to the wealthy has only recently occurred. Unless Bankers are the new proletariat. (And I have a hard time thinking of tax cuts as wealth transfers, if that’s even what the President is talking about, he’s short on details…like all presidents).
Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
I really wish someone had mentioned we were postponing critical debates. The above paragraph reeks of a hindsight bias.
As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President’s Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government — I don’t.
Not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited — I am. I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. That’s why I pushed for quick action. And tonight, I am grateful that this Congress delivered, and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.
Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector — jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, laying broadband and expanding mass transit.
3.5 million jobs, 1 trillion dollars…that’s 285,000 dollars per job. Quite a bargain
Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.
The pie in the sky rhetoric begins it slow crescendo…
Because of this plan, 95 percent of the working households in America will receive a tax cut — a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1.
More language confusion, wealth transfers are being confused with tax cuts.
I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.
I’m sure my skepticism will be reduced with sound reason, logic, empirical and historical examples and ample evidence proving why this should work…
That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort — because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend. I have appointed a proven and aggressive inspector general to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new Web site called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.
Wait, so…nothing for the skeptic? Just oversight? So, because the Pope has Swiss Guards, therefore God exists? Oversight=Success?
I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family’s well-being. You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe, your insurance is secure and you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That is not the source of concern.
No concern for those of us invested in gold anyway…
You see the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education; how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.
But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. With so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses or to each other. When there is no lending, families can’t afford to buy homes or cars. So businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further.
That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, restore confidence and restart lending.
Am I to understand the answer to problems caused by irresponsible lending is more lending? I guess it’s not impossible.
We will do so in several ways. First, 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.
Second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages.
Third, 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.
(Above quote abridged) Compared to everything else the president has planned, at least the bits above about lending made some degree of sense. If you’re going to spend a lot of money, spending it how he suggests will at least get people cars, homes, educations and money to start businesses. Even if it creates inflationary pressures.
I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.
Fancy drapes being a legitimate form of stimulus.
Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government — and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside.
Jesus Christ on a Crutch! How much money do you need?
But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade. That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.
Just when you thought the GOP had the monopoly on fearmongering…
So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you — I get it.
But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger or yield to the politics of the moment. My job — our job — is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.
Yes, corporations which do dumb things get bailout money. Nice precedent to set.
That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks — it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, and if they can get a loan too, maybe they’ll finally buy that car or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.
Wealth, conjured from thin air! (An aside, why do we need to build more homes? Wasn’t there just a housing crash?)
So I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary.
“Proves” being a flexible term with many nuanced meanings.
Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession.
The last open-ended recession having also been presided over by a Democrat who spent a lot of money.
My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited — a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis and a costly recession.
This is where Obama loses me. He wants to borrow on future earnings in the hope of stimulating the economy, but the budget deficits his inherited are bad.
Given these realities, everyone in this chamber — Democrats and Republicans — will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.
I think the Republicans have pretty much been sacrificed.
For history tells a different story. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the industrial revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.
Civil War II being back up plan A?
We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care and education.
Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history — an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science and technology.
Government research has incorrect incentives to produce viable and marketable consumer products, but it’s also not completely useless.
We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.
Warm fuzzies. Fine.
But 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.
Carbon pollution cap…like, I don’t know, a tax on carbon producing energy? Which would raise energy prices, something previously blamed for helping cause the present slowdown? Gotcha.
As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a retooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.
I like this. The President is a car guy
This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.
Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold.
Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.
We’re going to cure….cancer? Through government fiat?
I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, 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.
Of course healthcare weighs down the economy. So does food. If people didn’t have to eat, they could spend money elsewhere and we could use all that farmland for paint ball facilities. Getting stuff we need and want is the reason why we do things like get up early to go to work.
Eventually, if you keep giving things away, no one will have to work, right?
Even Marx figured out this wouldn’t work.
In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity — it is a prerequisite.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc, eh?
Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish.
This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education — from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.
Huge assumption here that I see lots of liberals make. They assume it is possible to bottle up enough education in the first quarter of a human beings life to last all the way through the other three-quarters. It’s simply not possible.
But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why 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.
Sometimes this president really surprises me. I hope he comes through on his promise to charter schools.
And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country — and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
What good are Psychology majors really, and why do we need more of them?
I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why 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. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Sen. Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country — Sen. Edward Kennedy.
I guess Obama just volunteered us all for national service…
There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children. And that is the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down.
By spending a trillion dollars we don’t have?
I’m proud that we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.
An end to frivolous government spending is nigh! Somehow I’m having a hard time believing it…
Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.
In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work
But you just said…from above…ah never mind.
…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.
Sense of foreboding beginning to escalate…
In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat — not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut — that’s right, a tax cut — for 95 percent of working families. And these checks are on the way.
Checks not being a form of “tax cut”
To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.
So by “tax free” you mean the government gives us more checks?
Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules — and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.
We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.
Peace conjured through happy words and a big smile?
And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al-Qaida and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away.
To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.
To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century — from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty — we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones and use all elements of our national power.
Did he just promise peace in the Middle East?
I know that it is easy to lose sight of this truth — to become cynical and doubtful, consumed with the petty and the trivial.
So, you’ve read my blog?
Yadda Yadda, God Bless America.
From everything I heard from Barack Obama tonight, I have a few simple thoughts. I will be investing in scotch and cigars, and will do my darndest to not work so hard that I start to make so much money I have to pay taxes.
*From AP, Speech is abridged.
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