President Barack Obama presented a somber but hopeful assessment of the nation’s economy during his first speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening. In it he outlined the mistakes of the past eight years that brought the country to where it is today. Instead of investing in the future, he accused the Bush administration of squandering a surplus to help the rich get richer. Quick profit became more important than a healthy market, difficult decisions were postponed, and ordinary Americans are paying the highest cost of all.
“I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so,” Obama said. “If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has — a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. … The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.”
Offering support to a nation in the throes of a recession, Obama said “Tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”
Obama touched on the somewhat unpopular bank bailout and reassured Americans that CEOs will now have to be accountable unlike the situation with the Bush administration. “I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions,” he said. “I promise you — I get it.”
Throughout the address, Democrats and very often many Republicans responded with enthusiastic applause and standing ovations, although they have shown very little support for the president’s economic initiatives.
“I think their response tonight was to be expected, given the president’s popularity,â€ said Rep. Chakah Fattah (D-Penn.) of his GOP colleagues. “But what we need is their cooperation as we move forward.â€
New York Rep. Yvette Clarke added that Republicans realize they have to begin to seek some common ground for the future of the economy and perhaps even their own political futures. “There’s a limit as to what their constituents will abide. In their districts, just like ours, there are people who are hurting. Obama struck a tone that all reasonable minds can wrap themselves around,â€ Clarke said.
The president said his budget, which he will present later this week, will focus on energy, healthcare, and education.
“My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue,” he said. “It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited — a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.”
He plans to double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years, invest in basic research funding to spur new discoveries in energy, medicine, science, and technology. Through Obama’s proposal, more Americans will be put to work making homes and buildings more efficient