Winning the future – Day one

President Obama visiting Orion Energy Systems, a company that focuses on energy technology, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. (Mouse-Over the photos).


“The State of the Union set a cunning trap for Obama’s enemies”


Howard Dean:

“I am going to be blunt about this I have seen the speech. It was leaked. It is a very, very good speech. I am delighted. I’m frankly a little surprised. The president is mindful of the deficit. He makes it clear he wants to work with the congress but with the most extraordinary thing is he lays down the gap gauntlet. Millionaires will have to pay more taxes if we are going to cut kids and other folks dependent on it. He made it clear this is going be a shared sacrifice and the tax cut extended for the people who make a million a year is not going to be extended again if we are going to do anything about the deficit. That was extraordinary. There is a lot of great stuff about the environment. I have to say, in print, we’ll see how he delivers it, it is one of the most substantive speeches I have seen him make.”


E.J. Dionne

“It was a smart speech aimed at scrambling the political debate, reassuring Americans that we can overcome challenges to our economic power, and redefining the political center…Obama has clearly decided to take that challenge on, embracing the idea of America as an exceptional nation that always, well, wins the future”.


 Ed Kilgore

// snip

….And that’s the beauty of Obama’s address. He basically put together every modest, centrist, reasonable-sounding idea for public investment aimed at job creation and economic growth that anyone has ever uttered; and he did so at the exact moment that the GOP has abandoned the very concept of public investment altogether. He’s thrown into relief the fact that Republicans no longer seem interested in any government efforts to boost the economy, except where they offer an excuse to reduce the size and power of government.

Paul Ryan’s deficit-maniac response played right into Obama’s trap: Ryan barely mentioned the economy other to imply that every dollar taken away from the public sector will somehow create jobs in the private sector economy (a private sector economy wherein, as Obama cleverly noted, corporate profits are setting records). For those who buy the idea that government is the only obstacle to an economic boom, this makes sense. But for everybody else, the contrast between a Democratic president with a lot of small, familiar ideas for creating jobs and growth, and a Republican Party with just one big idea, is inescapable. It’s a vehicle for the “two alternate futures” choice which Obama will try to offer voters in 2012.

Moreover, Obama’s tone—the constant invocation of bipartisanship at a time when Republicans are certain to oppose most of what he’s called for, while going after the progressive programs and policies of the past—should sound familiar as well. It was Bill Clinton’s constant refrain, which he called “progress over partisanship,” during his second-term struggle with the Republican Congress. During that period, the Republicans being asked to transcend “partisanship” were trying to remove Clinton from office. And Clinton wasn’t really extending his hand in a gesture of cooperation with the GOP but, by creating a contrast with their ideological fury, indicating that he himself embodied the bipartisan aspirations of the American people and the best ideas of both parties. It was quite effective.

By playing this rope-a-dope, Obama has positioned himself well to push back hard against the conservative agenda. Having refused to offer Republicans the cover they crave for “entitlement reform,” while offering his own modest, reasonable-sounding deficit reduction measures, he’s forcing the GOP to either go after Social Security and Medicare on their own—which is very perilous to a party whose base has become older voters—or demand unprecedented cuts for those popular public investments that were the centerpiece of his speech. Either way, in a reversal of positions from the last two years, Obama looks like he is focused on doing practical things to boost the economy, while it’s Republicans who are talking about everything else. Boring it may have been, but as a positioning device for the next two years, Obama’s speech was a masterpiece.


Roll Call

“In a speech that echoed the voices of Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy, who led the nation through another period of economic and emotional transition, Obama hammered the message that the American dream is still within reach but only if people can meet the demands of a new age…Obama, speaking for about an hour, used much of his address laying out his vision for moving the country forward based on five themes: innovation, education, building, reform and responsibility. And at the heart of his road map is a plan to put the nation on a strict fiscal diet while also making targeted investments in clean energy and infrastructure to boost the economy.”

The mishmash is “Full Of Sunny Optimism”


Hi guys, I hope everybody slept well. 🙂

1. Yep, Paul Krugman, yet again, is a little disappointed by not being very disappointed. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Considering the rumors a few weeks ago, which suggested a cave on Social Security, this wasn’t too bad. Obama said that we’re going to do something about Social Security, but unclear what. And in general he at least somewhat stood his ground against the right. In fact, the best thing about the speech was exactly what most of the commentariat is going to condemn: Obama did not surrender to the fiscal austerity now now now types.


2. Yep, watch:


3. Yep:

….Since that electoral shellacking in November, Obama has had three very good months. The more the Republicans dig in for partisan fights, the more presidential Obama appears. After the Gabby Giffords shooting and again at the State of the Union, Obama has had the perfect settings for his brand of visionary leadership.

Obama has been optimistic and prophetic; the Republicans have seemed merely political.


4. Yep:

PRESIDENT OBAMA CHALLENGES NATION TO ‘WIN THE FUTURE’…. One of the consistent traits we’ve seen from President Obama over the last two years is his reluctance to pursue goals he doesn’t expect to reach. He hates losing, so if Obama doesn’t see a path to success , he decides early on the destination isn’t worth the effort.

With this in mind, last night’s State of the Union address was different than most in that it carefully avoided the laundry list of priorities the president expected Congress to tackle in the coming year. Some of this is because White House officials wanted to present a broader vision of how to “win the future,” and some of it was simply born of necessity — there’s no point is presenting the most right-wing House majority ever with a to-do list it won’t even try to pass.

Instead, we heard Obama’s grand vision, which was very much in line with the Obama we saw before 2009. While multiple crises forced the president from his intended path the last two years, this was Obama being Obama. The address was constantly referencing the horizon, with themes we heard Candidate Obama stress in Iowa four years ago, encapsulated in an optimistic, forward-thinking vision, repeatedly referencing the importance of “winning the future,” a phrase used roughly 11 times last night.


5. Yep:

The substance of Obama’s speech was moderate liberalism — we like business, but government has a role too, neither too much nor too little, etc. It’s hard to attach that kind of case-by-case pragmatism to an overarching theme. But I do think Obama pulled it off pretty well. He took a fairly hackneyed idea — the future — and managed to weave it into issue after issue, from infrastructure to energy to deficits to education and even foreign policy.


6. But, but, but where was the substance???? Well, here:

1. Investment in government-funded research and technology

2. Investment in infrastructure, repairing crumbling roads and bridges

3. 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

4. Eliminate billions in taxpayer dollars subsidies for oil companies.

5. By 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.

6. Within 25 years, give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail

7. Investment in education, including replacing No Child Left Behind and preparing 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

8. Strengthen and protect Social Security for future generations.

9. Eliminate tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans

10. Strengthen health care law to increase affordability and reduce costs.

11. Reduce the deficit by $400 billion over 10 years.

12. Simplify the tax code for businesses by eliminating loopholes and for individuals to make it more fair.

13. Set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014

14. DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform

15. Bring all the troops home from Iraq this year.

16. Begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in July.


7. Hey, where is the focus on “war” and “terrorists” and “fear” and “death” and “killing”?


8. Lawrence  O’Donnell will get his moment:

Plouffe: Obama will address guns


9. And, the audacity to get things done RIGHT:

Treasury sells Citigroup warrants for $312 mln