Saturday, November 22, 2008

Beginning Big, Beginning Bold

President-Elect Obama's radio/YouTube address, announcing his intention to pass a two year Economic Recovery Plan immediately upon taking office. The text follows, with my emphasis added. I posted the video at Dreaming Up Daily:

"The news this week has only reinforced the fact that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions. Financial markets faced more turmoil. New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century. 540,000 more jobless claims were filed last week, the highest in eighteen years. And we now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further.

While I’m pleased that Congress passed a long-overdue extension of unemployment benefits this week, we must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again. We have now lost 1.2 million jobs this year, and if we don’t act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year.

There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. But January 20th is our chance to begin anew - with a new direction, new ideas, and new reforms that will create jobs and fuel long-term economic growth.

I have already directed my economic team to come up with an Economic Recovery Plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 - a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office. We’ll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.

These aren’t just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis; these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long. And they represent an early down payment on the type of reform my Administration will bring to Washington - a government that spends wisely, focuses on what works, and puts the public interest ahead of the same special interests that have come to dominate our politics.

I know that passing this plan won’t be easy. I will need and seek support from Republicans and Democrats, and I’ll be welcome to ideas and suggestions from both sides of the aisle.

But what is not negotiable is the need for immediate action. Right now, there are millions of mothers and fathers who are lying awake at night wondering if next week’s paycheck will cover next month’s bills. There are Americans showing up to work in the morning only to have cleared out their desks by the afternoon. Retirees are watching their life savings disappear and students are seeing their college dreams deferred. These Americans need help, and they need it now.

The survival of the American Dream for over two centuries is not only a testament to its enduring power, but to the great effort, sacrifice, and courage of the American people. It has thrived because in our darkest hours, we have risen above the smallness of our divisions to forge a path towards a new and brighter day. We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together. That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next President of the United States, I will. Thank you."

Friday, November 21, 2008

My sentiments exactly. From the Boston Globe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transition Flood

We aren't talking leaks anymore--this is a flood.

In addition to official announcements (David Axlerod as WH senior advisor, Greg Craig as White House Counsel, Lisa Brown will serve as Staff Secretary, and Chris Lu as Cabinet Secretary), there were apparently sourced stories that Tom Daschle, former Senate Democratic leader, is to be named Secretary of Health and Human Services, and will largely be in charge of getting universal health care created and passed.

Also that, pending final vetting, Janet Napolitano has been named Secretary of Homeland Security, and Chicago businessperson and a chief architect of the Obama fundraising apparatus Penny Pritzker has been likewise slotted for Secretary of Commerce. Update: Pritzker issued a statement Thursday that she's not taking a cabinet appointment. These are mostly Obama people, midwestern and except for Daschle, on the young side of 60.

And more "signs" that Robert Gates is considering/is being asked to, stay on as Sec of Defense.

These gushed out Wednesday, after Tuesday's spill of Peter Orszag as Budget Director and Eric Holder as Attorney General. Most of these apparent appointments have been praised. I've noted elsewhere that Orszag's appointment, along with Obama's message to the Climate Summit signals that the Climate Crisis will be high on Obama's agenda. The same may be said, with Orszag as well as Daschle, that health care isn't going to be left behind either.

But all this continues to be subsumed to the continuing noise over Hillary, will she or won't she. Wednesday saw more push-back in the media, with a few CW heavyweights like Tom Friedman and David Broder warning against it, and more stories alluded to distress within Team Obama over the Drama Queen appearances. The Times suggests Aides in each camp have grown increasingly sour toward the other in recent days as the matter played out publicly.

Also some attempts to mute the media mantra of the Obama administration as Clinton redux. Al G. put it this way:No Obama administration staffers are more guaranteed to be free of Clintonesque manipulation or fantasy than those like Craig and Holder that at great risk to their careers bucked the Clinton machine back when the polls suggested Senator Clinton's "inevitable" nomination to the presidency. They're battle-tested, inoculated and have zero illusions about wanting to relive the failed Clinton presidency. They've learned decisively from its mistakes in a depth and detail that most will never have the chance to do.

If these names turn out to be actual appointments, it does suggest that Obama is fielding less a Team of Rivals as an All-Star team. These are star skill players at their positions.

As for all the transition leakiness, there are reporters complaining that they aren't getting enough leaks. I don't know if I can blame the Clintonistas for all of them. They are starting to look like trial balloons--get the names out there and see if opposition develops, especially for the Cabinet level posts that require Senate confirmation.

Okay, back to the fun part: the election. The numbers continue to roll in, and Obama continues to gain votes. He's gone from winning by 5% in the popular vote on election night to now ahead by about 7%: with over 67 million votes now, Obama has 52.7% to McCain's 45.9.

Even where Obama lost, he gained--or won something. Missouri has finally been called for McCain, but only by 3,632 votes. Obama lost Utah of course--but get this, he won Salt Lake County, which includes Salt Lake City (by just over 200 votes.) The GOP won the county by at least 20 points in the last two elections.

Meanwhile the Minnesota Senate recount has begun--Franken made up some ground on the first day, but there's a long way to go.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Transition Watch

Democrat Mark Begich has been elected as U.S. Senator from Alaska. At this hour the AP and the Anchorage newspaper have called it for him, since his lead exceeds the number of ballots yet to be counted.

Democrats kept a Senate seat in their caucus earlier Tuesday by admonishing Joe Lieberman, taking a subcommittee chair (which while minor, still removes him from any power over climate crisis legislation) but allowing him to remain chair of the Senate Homeland Security committee. Afterwards, Joe the Traitor acknowledged that he owed his retention to Barack Obama.

The Lieberman deal and the prospects of Hillary as Secretary of State are being placed in the context of Obama's postpartisanship, changing how Washington works, as well as getting everybody to work together on some very serious problems. The Hillaryites seem to be trying not to screw up Hillary's options by talking too much, but they can't completely control themselves, as usual. Obama has to suspect that this isn't going to change.

We'll see how this plays out. Though I'd like to see Joe the Traitor dealt with sooner rather than later, he will be dealt with--by the voters of Connecticut. By then maybe he will have transformed himself again. I remain skeptical about Hillary, but the idea is getting general approval. I remain impressed with Obama's consistency, by his vision and by his patience, specifically in these matters.

As far as I'm concerned, the big news of the day--ignored by everyone--was Obama's statement on the Climate Crisis. I'll be writing about that shortly at Dreaming Up Daily.