Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Obama Promises Recovery for the Nation

In President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress, he asked worried Americans to pull together and declared reassuringly that the U.S. “will emerge stronger than before”. The 44th President called for new efforts to address energy, health care and education.

Acknowledging the anger felt by many Americans over the bailouts of banks, automobile companies and homeowners who are in over their heads, he explained that those steps have been necessary, not to help the institutions or people receiving taxpayer money, but to avoid deeper economic problems that would afflict everyone for generations to come.

Beyond the economic crisis, Obama used last night’s speech to lay out his plans for addressing many of the domestic issues that dominated last year’s campaign.  He stressed the need to make healthcare more affordable and accessible, something that will help minimize the health disparities that often impact Hispanics. Obama says that the budget he will release on Thursday will make a down payment on the goal of “quality, affordable health care for every American.”

With a nod to environmental concerns, his speech also challenged Congress to pass a bill to cap emissions of the heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet and use $15 billion a year of the revenues from the program to pay for renewable sources of energy.

Obama highlighted the importance of education and how it is inextricably related to fixing the economy.  This is a critical issue for Hispanics, since nationally 1 in 5 students in public schools are Hispanic.  This figure is much higher in some of the largest urban school districts in the country.  Obama said knowledge is the “most valuable skill you can sell.” He added that good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity; “it is a prerequisite.”

The President also pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, saying his administration had “already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.”  To accomplish this, he would eliminate education programs that do not work, end excessive payments to large agribusinesses and overhaul the military budget “so we’re not paying for cold-war-era weapons systems we don’t use.”

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana responded on behalf of the Republicans, criticizing Democrats for turning to government programs and spending to deal with the nation’s challenges, calling such an approach irresponsible.

Jindal said, “Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy.” He added that Democrats will grow the government, increase our taxes down the line and saddle future generations with debt.

New York Times

Washington Post