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SOTU Speech Wrap Up

Obama SpeechIf we know nothing else, we know by now that Obama can give a good speech, and he did so again today.  There’s a fair bit to like in the speech, in particular I agree with Ed O’Keefe that this was significant:

"We will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years," Obama said. "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."

That’s some of the vision I’ve been looking for from Obama—not just generalities, but a real vision with some specifics.  With 50 billion a year behind energy, for two years, some real good could and should be done.  I’d like to have seen even more, but 100 billion isn’t chickenfeed.

Obama seems to understand that the risk of inaction on banks is Japanification—an economy that just never really gets good:

Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside. 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.

The details on the plan are still rather vague, and long on talk of responsibility and short on using hard words like nationalization, but talk of responsibility and of making sure that banks actually lend again is welcome.

The healthcare talk was likewise good to hear, though I worry about the specifics.  And there was a bit in the discussion of Social Security which left me wondering:

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.

I’m curious what this means.  Does this mean Obama wants tax-free universal savings accounts as part of Social Security reform?  Will there be required savings, or is it optional?  When can you take the money out?  Is the money expected to be used to make investments, if so what kind of investments and who makes the decisions?

Overall though, another excellent speech and some policy proposals and rhetoric in it that the most die hard liberal can believe in. 

(Oh, and Bobby Jindal just did himself immense amounts of damage with his rebuttal.  Ouch.)

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Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at