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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Barack Obama's First Press Conference- Video, Text and Reactions

Here is a PDF of a statement, signed by hundreds of economists including Nobel laureates and other prominent scholars, calling Obama out on his assertion that economists agree with this stimulus package. (H/T MM)

Video of Obama's first press conference below, courtesy of LA Times, Top of the Ticket blog.

Text of speech:

Good evening. Before I take your questions tonight, I’d like to speak briefly about the state of our economy and why I believe we need to put this recovery plan in motion as soon as possible. I took a trip to Elkhart, Ind., today. Elkhart is a place that has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in America. In one year, the unemployment rate went from 4.7% to 15.3%.

Companies that have sustained this community for years are shedding jobs at an alarming speed, and the people who’ve lost them have no idea what to do or who to turn to. They can’t pay their bills and they’ve stopped spending money. And because they’ve stopped spending money, more businesses have been forced to lay off more workers. Local TV stations have started running public service announcements that tell people where to find food banks, even as the food banks don’t have enough to meet the demand.

As we speak, similar scenes are playing out in cities and towns across the country. Last Monday, more than 1,000 men and women stood in line for 35 firefighter jobs in Miami. Last month, our economy lost 598,000 jobs, which is nearly the equivalent of losing every single job in the state of Maine.

And if there’s anyone out there who still doesn’t believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from. That is why the single most important part of this Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs. Because that is what America needs most right now.

It is absolutely true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life.

It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan....

...that’s moving through Congress is designed to do. When passed, this plan will ensure that Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own can receive greater unemployment benefits and continue their healthcare coverage.

We will also provide a $2,500 tax credit to folks who are struggling to pay the cost of their college tuition, and $1000 worth of badly-needed tax relief to working and middle-class families. These steps will put more money in the pockets of those Americans who are most likely to spend it, and that will help break the cycle and get our economy moving.

But as we learned very clearly and conclusively over the last eight years, tax cuts alone cannot solve all our economic problems –- especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few Americans. We have tried that strategy time and time again, and it has only helped lead us to the crisis we face right now. That is why we have come together around a plan that combines hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the middle class with direct investments in areas like healthcare, energy, education, and infrastructure –- investments that will save jobs, create new jobs and new businesses, and help our economy grow again –- now and in the future.

More than 90% of the jobs created by this plan will be in the private sector. These will not be make-work jobs, but jobs doing the work that America desperately needs done. Jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and repairing our dangerously deficient dams and levees so that we don’t face another Katrina.

They will be jobs building the wind turbines and solar panels and fuel-efficient cars that will lower our dependence on foreign oil, and modernizing a costly healthcare system that will save us billions of dollars and countless lives. They’ll be jobs creating 21st century classrooms, libraries, and labs for millions of children across America. And they’ll be the jobs of firefighters, teachers, and police officers that would otherwise be eliminated if we do not provide states with some relief. After many weeks of debate and discussion, the plan that ultimately emerges from Congress must be big enough and bold enough to meet the size of the economic challenge we face right now.

It is a plan that is already supported by businesses representing almost every industry in America; by both the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. It contains input, ideas, and compromises from both Democrats and Republicans. It also contains an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability, so that every American will be able to go online and see where and how we’re spending every dime. What it does not contain, however, is a single pet project, and it has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable.

Despite all of this, the plan is not perfect. No plan is.

I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans. My administration inherited a deficit of over $1 trillion, but because we also inherited the most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression, doing too little or nothing at all will result in an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes; and confidence.

That is a deficit that could turn a crisis into a catastrophe. And I refuse to let that happen. As long as I hold this office, I will do whatever it takes to put this country back to work. I want to thank the members of Congress who’ve worked so hard to move this plan forward, but I also want to urge all members of Congress to act without delay in the coming week to resolve their differences and pass this plan.

We find ourselves in a rare moment where the citizens of our country and all countries are watching and waiting for us to lead.

It is a responsibility that this generation did not ask for, but one that we must accept for the sake of our future and our children’s. The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose.

That is the test facing the United States of America in this winter of our hardship, and it is our duty as leaders and citizens to stay true to that purpose in the weeks and months ahead. After a day of speaking with and listening to the fundamentally decent men and women who call this nation home, I have full faith and confidence that we can. And with that, I’ll take your questions.

Full text with Q & A period attached, found at another Top of the Ticket piece, here.

Althouse and The Caucus both live blogged, so check out their take.

Adam Nagourney discusses Obama's "yardsticks" aka benchmarks to judge whether this hail Mary spending bill helps or not:

Mr. Obama was asked how he would define success by Jake Tapper of ABC News. And he did not hedge, offering some benchmarks by which the American public – not to mention his supporters and opponents – can judge him.

The first and most critical measure, Mr. Obama said, is whether or not his economic plan is successful in “creating or saving 4 million jobs.” Historically the unemployment rate has been late in rebounding from a recession which might be a problem for Mr. Obama in two years; that said, that language – creating or saving – should give him a little bit of a cushion if there is in fact any kind of economic rebound at all. But not that much of a cushion.

The second measure, he said, is whether the credit markets are operating efficiently. Mr. Obama made clear through the night that the credit crisis was as critical as the economic one, and that one could not be solved alone. And the third was whether the federal government has succeeded in stabilizing the housing market; whether the decline in housing prices and the boom of foreclosures has been arrested.

Finally, he said, the most important measure it the traditional measure by which a recession is judged over: Whether the economy stops contracting and shedding jobs and starts growing again.

Now for some personal observations.

President Obama's LIES:

Obama said "It is only government that can break the vicious cycle."

Wrong, dead wrong, it is the government that caused the economic crisis and the government needs to sit down, shut up, get their hands the hell out of it, as much as possible, and let this run it's course.

Obama is right on one key point, this is a crisis, one we brought on ourselves by borrowing and spending, which means by passing a bill that holds as it's key premise that "spending" will somehow drag us out of this crisis, is not only ignorant, but is an outright lie.

Next lie up to bat is Obama's statement "What it does not contain, however, is a single pet project, and it has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable."

This one is a doozy ladies and gentlemen, because as has been pointed out, multiple times, by a variety of people, including AP News, willing to list examples, Obama lied through his teeth:

First there is 2.6 billion for “clean coal”. Now I’m not against coal, but somehow Robert Byrd convinced his colleagues that coal is “green”.

Senator Max Baucus got $26 billion for private equity companies — the vultures that buy companies, load them up with debt, collect exorbitant fees, and then try to sell them to the unsuspecting public.

From AP News:

President Barack Obama had it both ways Monday when he promoted his stimulus plan in Indiana. He bragged about getting Congress to produce a package with no pork, yet boasted it will do good things for a Hoosier highway and a downtown overpass, just the kind of local projects lawmakers lard into big spending bills.

Not even a good lie with a chance of being believed when he said no pork, then goes on to name an example OF pork.

WOW, how stupid does he think Americans are?

Rhetorical, sorry, after all, we voted him in, didn't we?

More from the AP piece, fact checking Obama:

OBAMA: "I've appointed hundreds of people, all of whom are outstanding Americans who are doing a great job. There are a couple who had problems before they came into my administration, in terms of their taxes. ... I made a mistake ... I don't want to send the signal that there are two sets of rules."

He added: "Everybody will acknowledge that we have set up the highest standard ever for lobbyists not working in the administration."

THE FACTS: Two of his appointees, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle for secretary of health and human services and Nancy Killefer as his chief compliance officer, dropped out after reports they had not paid a portion of their taxes.

Obama previously acknowledged he "screwed up" in making it seem to Americans that there is one set of tax compliance rules for VIPs and another set for everyone else. Yet his choice for treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, hung in and achieved the post despite having belatedly paid $34,000 to the IRS, an agency Geithner now oversees.

That could leave the perception that there is one set of rules for Geithner and another set for everyone else.

On lobbyists, Obama has in fact established tough new rules barring them from working for his administration. But the ban is not absolute.

William J. Lynn III, tapped to be the No. 2 official at the Defense Department, recently lobbied for military contractor Raytheon. William Corr, chosen as deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, has lobbied as an anti-tobacco advocate. And Geithner's choice for chief of staff, Mark Patterson, is an ex-lobbyist from Goldman Sachs.


Last but not least, I will end with the quote of the day, from Malkin:

Gag. President Obama claims to be acting on behalf of my children and grandchildren.

Stop, thief.