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Barack Obama’s Weekly Radio Address

January 31, 2009

This morning I’d like to talk about some good news and some bad news as we confront our economic crisis.

Finally, some change I can believe in.  I am very very much in need of good news.  But, alas, I don’t believe you are capable of delivering it.

The bad news is well known to Americans across our country as we continue to struggle through unprecedented economic turmoil.

Are you talking to America?  Or, are you talking to your daughters?  Unprecedented economic turmoil…..that is just inexcusably irresponsible.

Yesterday we learned that our economy shrank by nearly 4 percent

Yo, Mr. “detail leaver outer”….the economy did not shrink by 4%, or even the 3.8% that was reported.  It shrank by .965% for the 4th quarter 2008.  Call it 1%, go ahead and round up to continue to scare us silly.  But really, really!, 4%?  Something about irresponsible comes to mind.  Though I suspect I am going to have to discipline myself to continue to avoid such references.

from October through December. That decline was the largest in over a quarter century, and it underscores the seriousness of the economic crisis that my administration found when we took office.

Nice pick.  Blame Dubya for all of this.  As if the Senate had noooothing to do with it.  Didn’t vote for TARP.  Golly, if ONLY we could get one two of those Senators and just YELL at them.

Already the slowdown has cost us tens of thousands of jobs in January alone. And the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Make no mistake,

Umm, so far, it’s not me thats making the mistakes.

these are not just numbers. Behind every statistic there’s a story. Many Americans have seen their lives turned upside down. Families have been forced to make painful choices. Parents are struggling to pay the bills. Patients can’t afford care. Students can’t keep pace with tuition. And workers don’t know whether their retirement will be dignified and secure.

The good news

Oh good!  Good news…..

is that we are moving forward with a sense of urgency equal to the challenge.

Awesome.  Waiting for the goods.

This week the House passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan,

Wait wait wait….what is this?  You said, you PROMISED me good news.

which will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next few years. It puts a tax cut into the pockets of working families,

No.  No it doesn’t.  What it DOES do is put MY money in their pockets.  But, you know–details, who needs ’em?.

and places a down payment on America’s future by investing in energy independence and education, affordable health care, and American infrastructure.

Good ideas all.  But, step over here Sparky……none of them have anything to do with, you know, the economy.  Much less stimulating it.

Now this recovery plan moves to the Senate. I will continue working with both parties so that the strongest possible bill gets to my desk.

I bet we have different definitions of “strong” in this case.

With the stakes so high we simply cannot afford the same old gridlock and partisan posturing in Washington. It’s time to move in a new direction.

gawd.

Americans know that our economic recovery will take years

As in, say….about…threeish?  Just right in time for your second run at the Office?

— not months. But they will have little patience if we allow politics to get in the way of action,

hahahahah, stop!  My belly hurts.  Really.

and our economy continues to slide. That’s why I am calling on the Senate to pass this plan, so that we can put people back to work and begin the long, hard work of lifting our economy out of this crisis. No one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy. So just as we jumpstart job creation, we must also ensure that markets are stable, credit is flowing, and families can stay in their homes.

Except that putting those families in their homes is the cause of all of this.  But, I’m sure you knew that, right?  Wait…why are shaking your head no?  Oh my, how embarrassing, you didn’t know that did you?

Last year Congress passed a plan to rescue the financial system.

Don’t make it sound like it was “they”.  YOU voted for it.  Don’t ever forget that; we won’t!

While the package helped avoid a financial collapse, many are frustrated by the results — and rightfully so. Too often taxpayer dollars have been spent without transparency or accountability. Banks have been extended a hand, but homeowners, students, and small businesses that need loans have been left to fend on their own.

And adding to this outrage, we learned this week that even as they petitioned for taxpayer assistance, Wall Street firms shamefully paid out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008. While I’m committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed. The road to recovery demands that we all act responsibly, from Main Street to Washington to Wall Street.

Soon my Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, will announce a new strategy for reviving our financial system

Raise taxes and then not pay ’em.  Love it!

that gets credit flowing to businesses and families. We’ll help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs. We’ll ensure that CEOs are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery. And we will insist on unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight, and clear accountability — so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results.

Rarely in history has our country faced economic problems as devastating as this crisis.

All right, stop.  Devastating.  Crisis.  How about this change?  Change the way in which you are painting this economic exercise.

But the strength of the American people compels us to come together. The road ahead will be long, but I promise you that every day that I go to work in the Oval Office I carry with me your stories, and my administration is dedicated to alleviating your struggles and advancing your dreams.

How about this?  If you stay out of the way, I’ll promise to work on my dream by myself.  Sheesh.

You are calling for action. Now is the time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities.

UPDATE:

I was in bed and it dawned on me; you kinda fooked me on that whole Good News thing.

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Many Republicans, conservatives especially, have railed against the stimulus package proposed by either The Chairman or the Democrat party.  The fact is that it contains so much extra spending that we are left unsure what is really meant to be stimulus and what is meant to be long held Democratic pet projects.  Say nothing of the fact that it likely won’t work.

It is a long standing pet peeve of mine for people to continually point out the obvious, the wrong, the bad ideas without coming up with their own.  And so it is that the Republicans have, in fact, come forth with ideas of their own.

For a nice read see this article from Reason.

So, I was talking to a friend yesterday regarding the new administration; Obama’s plans and goals.  Now, in the past, this friend of mine has been consistently further left than me, but only barely.  However, in several cases, namely that of the ability of the government to take money from us, he was slightly to the right.  Yesterday he shared with me that, yes, in fact, it is the “right thing to do” when we were discussing the transfer of money from those that have to those that simply have less.  When I prodded him further, he claimed “It’s the right thing to do.”

I couldn’t talk.

I shook my head, looked down for a second and then lifted my eyes back up to meet his, hoping, really really hoping that I would see the beginnings of a smile.  See the familiar wrinkle in the eyes that would signal the beginning of the joke.

Nothing.  He looked at me dead in the eye.  And just blinked.

As a friend, of course, I couldn’t lambaste him, but I did gently bring up old discussions, debates that we shared over coffee, bourbon and beer.  He admitted that, in fact, he does remember saying and feeling those things and yes, doesn’t deny, that he has now changed his mind.

I got the feeling as a walked away, that he may be on the fence.  That somehow,even he himself knew that he wasn’t sure if he was saying these things because they were the result of bedrock principles well thought out or, if, perhaps, it’s because he somehow wanted to feel that way.  That somehow, society has lost it’s way and we have forgotten those less fortunate.  And in so doing, we have perhaps ceded our rights, certain rights, to the government in regard to the tending of the poor.

Of course, before I left I recounted how this country’s poor are not really so poor, as a whole.  That in fact, not only are the bottom 25% much much better off than even 30 years ago, they are living in conditions that would be considered very well off with respect to the rest of the world.  I insisted that I find it hard to classify someone as poor when they had a satellite TV and PlayStation, but couldn’t afford health care for their kids.

I almost saw a tear as he nodded in agreement, but then shrugged it off, as if to say “I can’t explain it, but I am at peace with my newfound place.”

At least for now.

So the question is this.  How did the paradigm get changed?  How did we lose what was once a rock solid foundation of right and wrong [or at least right and not right]?  And then, how do we communicate that in such a way so as to win the hearts and minds of those lost converts, and, perhaps, even win back some from the other side to boot?

I have been asked this question so many times my ears are bleeding.

Are you hoping that Obama fails—or succeeds?

Blink.  Blink.

Serious.  Early on, all I could do was muster a blank look at the person in front of me and just shake my head.  I had no answer.  The question just stunk of…well, of stink.  Without knowing why, I would just kinda shrug, grimace and say “What?”

No, however, I know from where I came.  I mean, it took some days and some thinking, but really, stop for just a second, and look at the question.  Repeat it.  Run it through your mind and then, just say it, really, say it, out loud.

Are you hoping that Obama succeeds?

Maybe I’m slow, maybe you’re quicker.  Whatever, in time, it came to me.  The whole premise of the question is flawed.  Do I hope that Obama succeeds?  Do I hope that Obama fails?  What the hell?

Now, of course, I know the problem with the question; and my answer.  This thing about succeeding or failing has nothing to do with The Chairman.  The fact that a Dem or a Repub is in the White House really isn’t the issue.  The fact is this, I want ME, ME ME ME ME to succeed.  I want to be able to strike out and make a life for me and my family.  In the process, I would like it if you could also have a shot at the same life.  Cause in the end, we are al inter-connected.  And so yeah, if I am to succeed, then you kinda have’ta too.

In short, I hope that America succeeds.  And to that end, in that I am convinced that The Chairman’s ways of looking at life, at government, at right and wrong, fair and unfair, is flawed.  And so yeah, I hope that America continues to move forward, to lead the way and shine forth as an example of all that’s good in the world.

I just don’t think that Obama’s method is going to do that for us.

And so it is that I have to answer:

I am for America succeeding, and so it is that Obama’s plan must be fought at every opportunity.  For the good of America.

So, for some time now, we have been in this recession.  And for as long, we have heard, from everybody, that this economic collapse is as bad as it’s ever EVER been.  From the beginning, from the very beginning, I have had my doubts.  Not only as to how long this has actually been going on, but also as to how bad it really is.

First, the beginning.  The classic definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.  Contrary to what the think tank responsible for calling recessions says, this did not happen until October of 2008.  As such, it is very reasonable to say that this current economic downturn is only a very recent event.

Now, onto the depth and width of the downturn.  How bad is it?  How bad, really, are we struggling?  To answer that, we are going to have to go look into the many different economic indicators.

[As I type this, I am actually hearing Anderson Cooper say “No one alive has seen conditions as bad as we are seeing right now.]  Dood!

I am going to make this a recurring theme here at TarHeel Red.  I want to come back and visit how bad we have it compared to our recent past and our historical past.

Let’s look at one; Unemployment.

We are currently at 7.2%.  This represents the highest rate we have been at since……the Great Depression?  No, not even close.  Unemploymenet was higher as recently as January 1993.  IN fact, the current trend is that we have only 3—THREE—months of rising unemployment.  If you wanna go a little more negative, we are at 8–EIGHT—months of rising or static unemployment.    This compares with 11 such months as far back as, again, 1992 and 1993. In fact, there have been 81 months of higher unemployment since 1980!

Imagine that.  As recently as 1980, we have had 81 months of unemployment higher than we are seeing right now.

Do you see this in the media?  Are we hearing that, yes, we are seeing a rough patch but things seem to be alright so far?  No.  The main stream media is continuing to regurgitate this mantra of worst ever, worst of our lifetime, worst since……

So tell me.  How bad is it?

I am a big big believer in people helping people.  In a community coming together to help their neighbors in need.  In is through thiese efforts that our society is to help each other; not through taxation and government programs.

And so it is that I really admire and respect the work that Habitat for Humanity does.  They gather volunteers from the community, obtain donated money and build homes for people that are unable to afford them in the conventional manner.  These homes are provided in the form of interest free loans.  Further, because the materials and time are often donated, the actual cost of the home is reduced even further; sometimes half.

However, I can’t shake the feeling that organizations like these are just beside themselves at the prospect of an Obama Presidency.  And so it is that I have to chuckle at this:

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To qualify for a Habitat home, a family of two must earn between $28,000 and $30,000 annually. For a family of three, earnings must be between $31,000 and $33,000. A family of five would have to earn between $35,000 and $37,000.

“These people clearly demonstrate a need for having a house built for them,” Hoke County Habitat board member Daphne Graham-Dudley said. “They do not meet the income levels.”

Habitat offers interest-free loans to the homeowners, who in turn make payments back to Habitat. The group relies on homeowners making payments so they can have funds to build other homes.

“Those people have to pay those loans back, because it won’t work if they don’t,” Hoke County Habitat President Bill Evans said.

Arguments, you know, are sometimes more about miscommunication than they are disagreement about an agreed upon topic.

I wanna make sure I clear this up right away.

I am against Federally supported health care, medical care or health insurance.

I am FOR making the health care industry more stremlined, less burdened by administration costs and delays and for making it as safe as possible.

I am ALWAYs for making things better.

Just sayin.