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Opinion

Obama’s speech covers array of issues

Tracey Pollock

February 26, 2009

President Barack Obama gave his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. The speech was of the same annoying format that all presidential speeches are, where there is an interruption, due to clapping, nearly every five minutes. 

Obama’s speech began with discussion of our struggling economy. However, the tone quickly turned positive with the mention of job creation from the stimulus package.

He also promised a tax cut for 95 percent of American families (families that make under $250,000 a year).

Obama then turned his discussion to the credit crisis, and the necessity to get credit and lending back to normal. He was very sly in approaching the issue of needing to give more money to the banks, making clear that he understood the dissatisfaction of Congress and the American people of the last large bailout. 

“This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. 

Those days are over,” Obama said. 

He stated that we will not be giving money to the banks, but to the people.

Obama made clear the necessity for renewable energy, calling on Congress to pass legislation on their end for a federal cap on carbon emissions, which he hopes will promote renewable energy. 

He said he plans to invest $15 billion a year into renewable energy technology and research. The auto industry is also included in this plan (though no real specific goal mentioned) with Obama stating, “I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.”

Obama then moved on to his commitment to a better healthcare system. The plan is to get affordable comprehensive healthcare for every American, invest in preventative care and “seeking a cure for cancer in our time.”

Obama stated that he will work across party lines to achieve this goal.

The last element of Obama’s speech was education. There has been a great investment in education with the recent stimulus package, with more plans of investment and reform to come in the future.

Obama also called upon citizens to do their part and take one year or more of higher education or career training, and for young people to not drop out of high school which he says is no longer an option.

Obama briefly mentioned the closing of Guantanamo Bay (YAY!) and leaving Iraq in a responsible manner (YAY!), but sending more troops to Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight Al-Queda (BOO!) and increasing benefits for veterans (YAY!).

Obama ended his speech with the promise of hope for our country, asking the American people to remain optimistic in shitty times.

Though I disagree with some of the points of the speech, I am cautiously optimistic of the efforts of this new administration in dealing with energy, health care and education.

Obama is talking big and making very nice sounding commitments. I hope that our Congress and Obama can follow through with these promises, though I’m not holding my breath. 

(To read the transcript of this speech you can go to http://www.zimbio.com/Obama+Speech+Feb.+24,+2009/articles/4/Transcript+Obama+Speech+Feb+24+2009, or the New York Times page.)

Tracey Pollock is an alumna of UW-River Falls.