Obama Pitches His Stimulus Plan – An Assessment
I tend not to watch Presidential press conferences because they too often are just left-over campaign speeches that have been condensed and re-packaged. Nevertheless, I forced myself to watch President Obama’s press conference last night because it was his first as President but more important, it was his last and best opportunity to sell his stimulus plan to the American people. This is my assessment of that attempt.
Second, I observed that that the employment objectives for the stimulus plan continue to evolve. A month ago it was to “create” three million jobs. Two weeks ago, it changed to create or “save” three million jobs. Last night, the target became save or create “four million” jobs. When one of the reporters asked the President to tell us what particular economic “metric” the American people should watch to determine if the plan was working, I waited hopefully for some clear and precise response. Alas, it was not to come. Instead, President Obama repeated the “save or create” line. Someone please explain to me how we are going to measure how many jobs are “saved” by this or any other stimulus plan?
Third, I hope the President will not persist in his references to inheriting an economic disaster following eight years of failed policies. I agree that President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress were miserable failures on the economic front. However, people seem to forget that the Democrats controlled the agendas in the House and Senate for the last two years. Congress spends our money, remember Senator Obama? I didn’t observe in those last two years any abatement of the borrow and spend tsunami from the first six years.
Fourth, please don’t tell us that we need to spend federal money re-building elementary schools and the like. The President gave us the poignant tale of his visit to a run-down school in South Carolina that was built in 1850. Those poor kids need a new school and we are supposed to buy it for them. No. What this tells me is that there are a bunch of cheapskates in some burg in South Carolina who have repeatedly (as in for 159 years) turned down requests to increase their property taxes and/or sales taxes to build a new school. Now they want to pass the buck to the rest of the country. Sorry – I’m not buying it. Local schools are local problems and now is not the time to abandon that principle to curry favor with intransigent local politicians.
That’s my assessment in a nutshell. However, I can’t end this without commenting on Helen Thomas, the former UPI White House correspondent who was allowed to sit in the front row again and ask a question. Would someone please put this woman in the assisted-living center and leave her there? Bless her heart, I know she is 89 years old but how about retirement? I have never liked Helen Thomas. Towards the end of her career (the part when she could utter an intelligible sentence) she proved herself to be the most partisan “journalist” in the history of the White House press corps. Last night she strained to get out words that we could understand then started mumbling and rambling in some feeble attempt to ask a follow up, while the President was still trying to answer the first question. Enough is enough. Put a sock in it Helen.
Sorry, I had to get that out. Now, what are your thoughts about the President’s pitch for his plan?
Image credit: Kriss Szkurlatowski