Since his inauguration, lobbying for his $787 billion economic recovery package, President Obama projected almost apocalyptic consequences for the economy if his spending spree were not legislated upon us. But in his sort of State of the Union address Tuesday night Obama took on a much more optimistic tone, promising the nation that we will rebuild, recover, and “emerge stronger than before."
“The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach,” said Obama invoking the spirit of hope and change so many of us became familiar with throughout his presidential campaign.
“They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.”
Obama touted the passage of his new recovery plan while tidying up lingering concerns from the emotional and partisan stimulus debate.
“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” said Obama. A proud and grinning Nancy Pelosi led the partisan applause (nearly all Republicans remained seated).
In his most high profile speech since his inauguration, Obama spoke of the 3.5 million jobs his plan is said to create, tax credits for college students, and his infamous tax cut for 95% of Americans.
“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,” said Obama. “In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut — that’s right, a tax cut — for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way.”
Assuring Americans not to worry about broken promises and over spending of the past, Obama offered “Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort — because nobody messes with Joe.”
Obama spoke of new lending funds, housing plans, and more support (provided banks are held accountable for the assistance they receive) in order to restore confidence in financial sectors and jump start lending.
“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,” Obama said, drawing in large applause.
Obama used the bully pulpit to call on further spending in a budget he plans to submit to Congress this week, referring to it as a "blue print for our future." Energy, healthcare, and education reform the three issues he called "critical to our economic future."
Stating that America is falling behind China, Germany and Japan in production and use of clean energy, Obama claimed that his recovery plan “ will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years."
Regarding healthcare reform, he hyped Congress’ reauthorized the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and claimed that the new budget will build further on these reforms.
“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,” said Obama.
The longest line of applause came from Obama’s call in support for our men and women in uniform.
“To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: we honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support,” said Obama.
Obama spoke of reform in the defense budget so that “we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use,” and to relieve strain on forces, increase the number of soldiers and Marines, increase their pay, and extend veteran healthcare benefits.
Obama’s speech lasted 52 minutes in length and drew in 61 rounds of applause. Despite the hubbub still permeating from the stimulus debate, Democrats and Republicans alike crowded the chamber isles to greet him and get his autograph upon his arrival and departure.
A CNN poll released after his address reports that “eighty-five percent of those polled said the president’s speech made them more optimistic about the direction of the country over the next few years.”
If this wasn’t Obama’s desired goal, at least we know Bill Clinton isn’t mad at him anymore.