The Importance of Obama's Stimulus Speech

It's not especially common for presidents-elect to give major policy addresses two weeks before Inauguration Day, but watching Barack Obama's speech in northern Virginia this morning, we were reminded that these are not ordinary times.

Watching the speech, it seemed to have a State-of-the-Union-like feel. Obama was addressing the public, but he also went out of his way to repeatedly urge Congress to deliver an economic rescue package immediately. Obama told lawmakers to resist the urge to pack earmarks into the bill and repeatedly pressed members to get to work: "I urge Congress to move as quickly as possible..."; "Congress [must] act without delay..."; "I'm asking Congress to work with me and my team day and night, on weekends if necessary, to get the plan passed in the next few weeks."

On a related note, Obama also stressed the importance of speed. He described a crisis that is so severe, that every day of delay makes matters worse. Obama talked about the need for "dramatic action as soon as possible" and warned of the dire consequences of inaction.

"I know the scale of this plan is unprecedented," Obama said, "but so is the severity of our situation. We have already tried the wait-and-see approach to our problems, and it is the same approach that helped lead us to this day of reckoning. That is why the time has come to build a 21st century economy in which hard work and responsibility are once again rewarded." To that end, Obama described an ambitious vision on energy, health care, education, infrastructure and closing loopholes that "allow Wall Street wrongdoers to slip through regulatory cracks."

But here's the part of the speech that, at least politically, was the most important:


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