Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trillions

So who else watched the Obama speech to Congress tonight? I missed the beginning, but saw most of it. Did anybody else get tired of the standing O's? Was anybody else repulsed by the sight of that weasel Joe Lieberman, whom the cameras drifted to at least a couple of times?

It was a good speech, delivered well and forcefully. And best of all, it was a Democratic speech, that wasn't stingy in its criticism of bankers and banks, the previous administration and all its allies in the Congress (although he didn't say so directly) who preferred short term gains at the expense of long-term stability in the country's financial system. I personally was happy to hear that no-bid contracts like those that fattened defense contractors in Iraq were going to end, as well as all the conspicuous perks for bank and Wall St. CEOs. I was delighted to hear that cuts are coming for defense (scrapping Cold War weapons systems the services are buying, ferreting out fraud and waste). And that subsidies for "giant agri-business that doesn't need them" are also on the block. (I'm going to have to see this to believe it.)

The president reiterated the three main goals for action he's been talking about from the start: alternative energy, health care reform, close attention and improvement in education. Of course, all of this will have to be embodied in legislation that must pass through the sausage grinder in the Congress. And what's being proposed is in addition to the many more hundreds of billions it will require to prop up the damn banks, billions to keep the auto manufacturers afloat, and assist homeowners with mortgage relief. We're talking perhaps a multiple of trillions of dollars before, and if, we get out of this mire. I simply don't understand another thing Obama said tonight: that by the end of his first term, he will have reduced the deficit by half--to about a trillion dollars. The numbers we're talking about here make my head spin.

Update 1: Reactions to Obama's speech from various observers and reactions to the reactions.

Was anyone surprised by the Bobby Jindal response speech? I thought it was terrible. Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, trotted out the same, tired formula for solving the gigantic problems we face: tax cuts and don't trust government. Lame, lame, lame. Even the Republicans are saying so. Check David Brooks to Jim Lehrer tonight about Jindal's performance.

Update #1: Lots of Republican heartburn with the Jindal response. Fun reading.
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