Archive for September 9th, 2011



09
Sep
11

friday

09
Sep
11

reaction

Steve Benen: My initial take…. this was an exceptional speech from President Obama. For all the talk about him being too professorial, or too cool, or too reluctant to show a willingness to fight, this was Obama circa 2008 – passion meets vision meets policy. This was, at its core, a address about a policy crisis, but Obama made an emotional appeal.

What’s more, the president’s vision, the “American Jobs Act,” happens to have some really good ideas that, as it turns out, would actually offer a significant boost to the economy.

Perhaps most importantly from a purely ideological perspective, Obama pushed back aggressively against the idea that government is and should be powerless when it comes to creating jobs and growing the economy. A significant chunk of the speech was a defense of the power of government itself to make a positive difference, and it was most welcome given the prevailing political winds.

I also like the fact that there’s going to be a bill that will be on the table …. Obama will present, in writing, a specific legislative proposal, which will reportedly total about $450 billion – bigger than rumors suggested, and much closer to what the economy needs.

….For two weeks, I’ve been urging the president to swing for the fences. Tonight, it looks to me like the ball easily cleared the center-left bleachers.

More here

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Paul Krugman: First things first: I was favorably surprised by the new Obama jobs plan, which is significantly bolder and better than I expected. It’s not nearly as bold as the plan I’d want in an ideal world. But if it actually became law, it would probably make a significant dent in unemployment.

….. it calls for about $200 billion in new spending — much of it on things we need in any case, like school repair, transportation networks, and avoiding teacher layoffs — and $240 billion in tax cuts….

…. it’s much bolder and better than I expected. President Obama’s hair may not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking; clearly and gratifyingly, he does grasp how desperate the jobs situation is.

But his plan isn’t likely to become law, thanks to Republican opposition. And it’s worth noting just how much that opposition has hardened over time, even as the plight of the unemployed has worsened.

….The good news in all this is that by going bigger and bolder than expected, Mr. Obama may finally have set the stage for a political debate about job creation. For, in the end, nothing will be done until the American people demand action.

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Andrew Sullivan: …. My own view is that this blend of short term stimulus balanced by serious long term entitlement reform is so obviously the sanest, smartest way forward it will sink in with most Americans. And complementing it with tax reform to give taxpayers a fair shake is the icing on the cake. What’s now clear is that he is betting big in the nest year. This is more aggressive than I have seen him since he got elected. There is a steely impatience here that is obviously designed either to get something done now, or, if not, to run a Truman-style anti-Congress presidential campaign…..

….. Wow. A threat to take this vision across the country if the GOP doesn’t cooperate now. That’s Truman-speak. After months of mild attempts to get Republicans to agree, he hasn’t caved, and he hasn’t demonized them. But he has now upped the ante, and has new fire in his belly. If he can succeed in getting a bulk of the jobs bill through and if the super-committee doesn’t fail, we have a chance to turn this economy around.

It was rooted in patriotism; it was framed to portray Obama as the pragmatic centrist he actually is. And it was not dishonest – these are the choices, short-term and long-term, that we have to make. And we should not be required to wait for another year and a half for action.

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John Judis (TNR): Barack Obama gave the best speech of his presidency tonight. It was angry, direct, and entirely appropriate to the occasion – an “economic crisis,” which, as he said, has been made worse by a “political crisis.” He spoke to the Congress, but also over their head to their constituents, and appealed to them to put pressure on their representatives…

He eloquently defended government against those who want to dismantle it. Americans, he reminded the audience, are not just “rugged individualists” but “all connected” and “there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.” “Ask yourselves—where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges, our dams and our airports?” He made the case for government by making the case for collective action rather than for “big government.” That’s an essential distinction…..

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Greg Sargent (Washington Post): … Anyone who wanted Obama to show that he’s ready to mount a sustained fight to create jobs, to give an aggressive defense of the idea that government can and must act to fix the economy, to make a serious effort to break the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop and shift the conversation to job creation, and to offer an expansive moral and big-D Democratic critique of the conservative economic vision, should be very satisfied by what they heard.

Yes, it was just a speech…. but if this is the template for what lies ahead, it’s encouraging indeed.

…. Obama didn’t just urge Congress to pass his jobs plan; he repeatedly hectored Congress to do it. He demanded that Congress pass his plan — often demanding that they do so “right away” — no less than 15 times. And he vowed to barnstorm the country if Congress doesn’t pass the plan. The tone of urgency bordered on overkill — which is a good thing: “You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country.” Aides had promised he would challenge, rather than beseech, Congress to act. That turned out to be an understatement…..

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Jonathan Chait (TNR): He proposes a jobs plan that wins the approval of Paul Krugman and David Brooks. Feel the love!

Surfing on over to Fire Dog Lake, I wondered if Obama managed to win the hearts of his most fervent enemies. So far I see one item on it:

– So how was the speech?

– I didn’t see it, did Obama open up with a line about how many people he’s killed?

That’s about as positive as you’re going to get.

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EJ Dionne: The best part of President Obama’s speech tonight was his hammering over and over the need to pass “this bill,” meaning his bill to boost the economy. It wasn’t, “we can work this out,” or, “I look forward to talking to Speaker Boehner.” No, Obama said flatly that the economy is in crisis, that action is needed right now, and that he had put together a recipe whose ingredients include many ideas Republicans had supported in the past. He didn’t say it explicitly, but he might as well have said to the Republicans, “So what’s your problem?”

More here

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Eugene Robinson: President Obama raised his speechifying game Thursday night, as he had to do. Another billet doux inviting hostile congressional Republicans to please sit around the campfire and sing “Kumbaya” wouldn’t have cut it. What Obama did, instead, was issue a challenge – and, not incidentally, lay out the opening themes of his reelection campaign.

Perhaps the most significant line in Obama’s speech was his promise to take his jobs message to the people in “every corner of the country.” He told the assembled members of Congress that if they balk at passing his American Jobs Act, he will go over their heads. That answered the obvious question: What does Obama intend to do when House Republicans ball up his bill and throw it in the trash?

The measures Obama proposed are eminently reasonable……

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Harold Evans (Daily Beast): Has Barack Obama found his inner Harry Truman?

The parallels are eerie. Truman in 1946 lost midterm elections, just as Obama did last fall. The Republicans took the House (their first time since 1930) and the Senate. Truman’s approval ratings tanked, falling much lower, at 32 percent, than Obama’s have done. Unemployment wasn’t the issue it is today, but inflation was just as scary, and one in 10 of the labor force went on strike in 1946.

…. Then Truman found a new voice — as Obama did in his Thursday speech ordering Congress to “Pass this Act now!” Truman did it in on two whistle stop tours. He stopped his droning speeches and adopted a feisty, homey style answering questions on the tours. About this time in September 1948, he went on an epic 21,928-mile journey. Huge crowds at every whistle stop heard Truman from the back of his rail car gleefully blaming everything on the “do nothing Congress.” The cry “Give ‘em hell, Harry!” began to rise, and the delighted 33rd president would reply: “I never give anyone hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.”

He romped home with 303 electoral votes.

More here

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Eleanor Clift (Daily Beast): If President Obama’s speech were only about economics, its proposals would pass easily in both chambers of Congress. Though bigger and bolder than expected, it is still at its core a common-sense mix of ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported….

…. “Pass it now… pass it right now,” is an effective refrain that Obama used to introduce the various elements of the American Jobs Act before a remarkably warm and receptive Congress. That doesn’t mean Republicans have suddenly had a change of heart, but it does mean they are feeling the heat from a public that thinks lawmakers ought to do more than throw spitballs at each other.

… Obama showed Thursday night he has a way forward, and when Republicans stayed glued to their seats when he talked about rebuilding schools, they were the ones who looked clueless.

More here

09
Sep
11

west wing week: ‘american jobs act’ (september 9, 2011)

09
Sep
11

‘open for questions’




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