so that Americans can save billions of dollars on energy bills. “But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change,” Obama said, “We need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.
To support Congress’ plan, Obama said the country will invest $15 billion dollars a year to develop technologies such as wind and solar power, and build more fuel-efficient cars and trucks in America.
He said the U.S. must “harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy” to lead the 21st century. But acknowledged that it is China, not the U.S. “that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it.”
On education, the president said his budget will create new incentives for teacher performance and support for innovative education programs.
“The most potent moment was a Kennedy-like moment when he suggested that the incomplete education of anyone in America undermines the greatness of America,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas). “I hope that the young people of America heard that: Get a college education and begin to rebuild America.”
Despite unprecedented efforts to win bipartisan support for his measures, Republicans have so far only criticized the president’s economic remedies. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings expected more of the same tonight. “They’re preparing for 2010 when the House and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election and 2012 when the president is up for re-election. I don’t think it matters what he says; suspect it will be politics as usual and they’ll line up to criticize whatever he says.”
California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher believes Obama delivered a good speech but didn’t deliver enough details. Given the tens of billions already spent on recovery and reinvestment, he seems to think Obama is being naive if he thinks paying for his initiatives and halving the deficit by the end of his first term as he has pledged to do is as simple as identifying items in the budget that can be cut.
“He’s got to spend more time on how you get from here to there. The speech was heavy on goals, which sounded very lofty and heavy on what the problems are, but not much detail,” Rohrabacher said.
Cato Institute fellow Michael Tanner also felt that the speech lacked detail. “He pledged far-reaching — and expensive — goals, but didn’t tell us much about how he plans to get there,” said Tanner. “That’s why the speech will be popular. Who can be against better education, energy independence, healthcare reform, reducing the deficit, and fighting ‘fraud, waste, and abuse?’ If he spelled out the detailed plans, his poll numbers would drop. But without those details he complicates his chances for getting what he wants passed.”
Jackson-Lee and other Democrats are reserving judgment