Obama's First Press Conference

Since I caught most of his opening remarks to his first press conference while driving around town last night, I thought I would post it here and splice in my reaction to what he said (in bold brackets):

OPENING REMARKS OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA -- AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
First Presidential Press Conference
East Room, The White House
Monday, February 9th, 2009

Good evening. Before I take your questions tonight, I’d like to speak briefly about the state of our economy and why I believe we need to put this recovery plan in motion as soon as possible. [Didn't Bush do the same thing with that lovely piece of legistlation, the Patriot Act?]

I took a trip to Elkhart, Indiana today. Elkhart is a place that has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in America. In one year, the unemployment rate went from 4.7% to 15.3%. Companies that have sustained this community for years are shedding jobs at an alarming speed, and the people who’ve lost them have no idea what to do or who to turn to. They can’t pay their bills and they’ve stopped spending money. And because they’ve stopped spending money, more businesses have been forced to lay off more workers. Local TV stations have started running public service announcements that tell people where to find food banks, even as the food banks don’t have enough to meet the demand. [What a great way to start, appeal to emotion, that'll really get the tears flowing for him.]

As we speak, similar scenes are playing out in cities and towns across the country. Last Monday, more than 1,000 men and women stood in line for 35 firefighter jobs in Miami. Last month, our economy lost 598,000 jobs, which is nearly the equivalent of losing every single job in the state of Maine. And if there’s anyone out there who still doesn’t believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from. [I agree this is a full blown crises, but is Obama going to concede that the very government he now presides over is responsible for creating it? Unlikely.]

That is why the single most important part of this Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs. Because that is what America needs most right now. [I'm not sure that it will save or create 4 million jobs. How can he know that? How can he possibly predict that? The truth is he can't. He has no idea how the market will react. It's only a guess. And if/when 4 million jobs are not created, wait for the reason to be explained as they didn't spend enough.]

It is absolutely true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. [He is correct here, only the private sector can create true wealth. Government only spreads existing wealth around.] But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life. [He seems to believe here that the government has resources of it's own. He's incorrect. The only resources the government has are those it firsts extracts (by force) from the private sector.] It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that’s moving through Congress is designed to do. [This was the thinking pioneered by Hoover and Roosevelt. The thinking that lead to massive government spending and interference in the market. The thinking that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Japan's depression of the 1990s. Wait for the part where he admits he believed Roosevelt's actions were beneficial.]

When passed, this plan will ensure that Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own can receive greater unemployment benefits [read, government dole] and continue their health care coverage. We will also provide a $2,500 tax credit to folks who are struggling to pay the cost of their college tuition, and $1000 worth of badly-needed tax relief to working and middle-class families. [Yea, $1000, that's really going to help.] These steps will put more money in the pockets of those Americans who are most likely to spend it, and that will help break the cycle and get our economy moving. [Where's the part about putting more money back into business? Business is what creates jobs, after all, not the government.]

But as we learned very clearly and conclusively over the last eight years, tax cuts alone cannot solve all our economic problems – especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few Americans. We have tried that strategy time and time again, and it has only helped lead us to the crisis we face right now. [Is that the only thing we learned over the last eight years? I thought we learned about how government intervention into the market is a doomed endeavor. At least, that's what I learned.]

That is why we have come together around a plan that combines hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the middle-class with direct investments in areas like health care, energy, education, and infrastructure – investments that will save jobs, create new jobs and new businesses, and help our economy grow again – now and in the future.

More than 90% of the jobs created by this plan will be in the private sector. These will not be make-work jobs, but jobs doing the work that America desperately needs done. Jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and repairing our dangerously deficient dams and levees so that we don’t face another Katrina. They will be jobs building the wind turbines and solar panels and fuel-efficient cars that will lower our dependence on foreign oil, and modernizing a costly health care system that will save us billions of dollars and countless lives. [Has he considered whether or not this is an efficient way to spend our money? If it is, then the free-market will find a way to provide investment in these areas.] They’ll be jobs creating 21st century classrooms, libraries, and labs for millions of children across America. [Throwing more money at our education problems is certain to fix them. Right.] And they’ll be the jobs of firefighters, teachers, and police officers that would otherwise be eliminated if we do not provide states with some relief. [More ignoring the unseen uses of the money being taxes from the private sector.]

After many weeks of debate and discussion, the plan that ultimately emerges from Congress must be big enough and bold enough to meet the size of the economic challenge we face right now. It is a plan that is already supported by businesses representing almost every industry in America; by both the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. [Big Labor loves Big Government, this is no surprise.] It contains input, ideas, and compromises from both Democrats and Republicans. It also contains an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability, so that every American will be able to go online and see where and how we’re spending every dime. What it does not contain, however, is a single pet project, and it has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable. [Of course if you consider what the Constitution allows the federal government to spend money on, most of the stimulus bill is pet projects and special interest spending.]

Despite all of this, the plan is not perfect. No plan is. I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans. [Probably the best way to insure the plan, in case it doesn't work.] My administration inherited a deficit of over $1 trillion, but because we also inherited the most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression, doing too little or nothing at all will result in an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes; and confidence. That is a deficit that could turn a crisis into a catastrophe. And I refuse to let that happen. As long as I hold this office, I will do whatever it takes to put this country back to work. [This is exactly the fallacious thinking of every president that has interefered in the market, an failed.]

I want to thank the members of Congress who’ve worked so hard to move this plan forward, but I also want to urge all members of Congress to act without delay in the coming week to resolve their differences and pass this plan. [And ignore the hundreds of economists from all parts of the country, including Nobel laureates, that believe the government should do more to get out of the way to solve this crises.]

We find ourselves in a rare moment where the citizens of our country and all countries are watching and waiting for us to lead. It is a responsibility that this generation did not ask for, but one that we must accept for the sake of our future and our children’s. [Something tells me that creating bigger deficits and inflating or fiat money supply is not really thinking about the future or our children.] The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose. That is the test facing the United States of America in this winter of our hardship, and it is our duty as leaders and citizens to stay true to that purpose in the weeks and months ahead. After a day of speaking with and listening to the fundamentally decent men and women who call this nation home, I have full faith and confidence that we can. And with that, I’ll take your questions. [End]

One part I heard he commented that he was under the impression that what Roosevelt did was beneficial and couldn't believe there are actually people who think other wise. Talk about ignorant. Also, that those who believe the government should do nothing are (paraphrased) small in number and unimportant. As I listened to him speak, I actually began to understand what this writer is saying in response to the question "What does it feel like to be a libertarian?" But truly, although his plan is fundamentally flawed and won't work, I'll be happy to see it fail so that the world will see once again how futile socialistic attempts such as these really are, and we can return to creating real wealth via the free market.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Skyler, wow my friend, wow. That's all I have to say. A desire to see him fail. Just what we need from the citizens of our great nation. A desire to see the leader of the free world fail.
Tom said…
Skyler,

I can tell that there are going to be times where we are in agreement. There are also going to be times were we are not going to be in agreement. I think that on this issue, you and I are going to vehemently, but respectfully disagree. I'll layout my observations my responding to yours.

1. Didn't Bush do the same thing with that lovely piece of legislation, the Patriot Act

I don't think that we disagree on the premise that in times of political and civil tumult, there is a tendency on the part of government to act hastily. There have been many times when the citizenry have not been well-served by the legislation that comes from a legislative knee-jerk reaction. On the other hand, there are times when potentially good ideas suffer "paralysis by analysis." Consequently, we lose out when goverment fails to act in a timely manner. Ultimately, the moderating force between these two extremes is an involved citizenry. Unfortunately, in the best of times, most people care enough to get involved. Burke stated that the people have the government they deserve. The unfortunate truth is that our government sucks because the people suck. It's one thing to pass legislation. It's another thing entirely when citizens know that it's a bad law and yet they do nothing to stop it. For those people who are unhappy about the current stimulus package, I say that they need to hound their representatives. They need to get involved with grassroots efforts. I think that these posts of yours are great in that they get people thinking about the issues. My hope is that their thoughts will spur them to action.

2. What a great way to start, appeal to emotion, that'll really get the tears flowing for him.

Empathy is never bad thing. Today, I have a job that I love and leaves me very fiscally comfortable. However, I grew up very poor. My mother, who was working as a school teacher, had to work two other jobs in order to keep food in my mouth and a roof over my head. Those years were lean. I will be eternally grateful to those people who showed us a monicum of kindness during those years, for they were few and far inbetween.

3. I agree this is a full blown crises, but is Obama going to concede that the very government he now presides over is responsible for creating it? Unlikely.

In what sense? With the exception of Freddie and Fannie, I see a bunch of private business who failed because they were over-leveraged. What responsible bank would give you a mortgage of a property that was THIRTY times your salary? I believe that the root of this crisis is unadulterated greed.

4. I'm not sure that it will save or create 4 million jobs. How can he know that? How can he possibly predict that? The truth is he can't. He has no idea how the market will react. It's only a guess. And if/when 4 million jobs are not created, wait for the reason to be explained as they didn't spend enough.

It sounds like you think he pulled the number 4,000,000 out of his butt. I've worked in the sciences. I am an engineer. I'm telling you that we make accurate predictions based on math model all of the time. Now, I will concede that some models and approaches have a higher confidence interval than others and I will concede that at the end of all things, the result from these methods is a guess. However, it's not a blind guess. It's a guess based on the availible data. Economists do the same thing all of the time. One of the ways in which we perfect these methods is to make a prediction based upon them and then to do a post-mortem on what worked, what didn't work and why didn;t it work. You've posted articles from people who are sure that this stimulus package won't work. I could say that they don't know and it's only a guess. However, they believe that they have very sound reasons for their position.

5. He is correct here, only the private sector can create true wealth. Government only spreads existing wealth around.

I can't really address this point because I don't know what you mean by "true wealth"

6. He seems to believe here that the government has resources of it's own. He's incorrect. The only resources the government has are those it firsts extracts (by force) from the private sector.

Can you give me an example of what you mean? The Constitution gives Congress the right to levy taxes for all of those things that we expect it to do like build roads or have an army. Every state government agrees to these terms. While I would enjoy not being taxed so much, I don't mind paying my taxes.

7. This was the thinking pioneered by Hoover and Roosevelt. The thinking that lead to massive government spending and interference in the market. The thinking that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Japan's depression of the 1990s. Wait for the part where he admits he believed Roosevelt's actions were beneficial.

There are several points I dispute based on fact. Firstly, the idea that goverment should have a role in market regulation came with Roosevelt. This came as a result of the Great Depression, which in turn, was caused the absence of regulation of any kind on the markets. Once again, people are greedy. While I think WWII is what pulled us out of the Depression, more than Roosevelt's programs, I think that his programs, in the short-term, helped hungry people to eat. I don't think that many of his programs should have been continued to present-day. It's unfortunate that they have.

The running thread that I see through out your commentary is the idea that the market is large, powerful and if left alone, will be self-correcting. I feel that in many instances this true. However, my running counter-thread is been the idea that people are inherently greedy. The market is nothing more than a bunch of people who swap goods and services and capitol. The idea that the market is self-correcting only holds in you believe the idea the a person will act in his own best interests. Since this is not the case, I don't believe that the market can always be self-correcting. However, I definitely don't support the other extreme of having the government do it all.