Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President Obama: "It begins with energy. . ."

Feb 24: A major recurring theme of President Obama in his first address to a joint session of Congress and the American people was -- energy, health care, and education. He said the cost of health care is "crushing" and causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. On education he said, "the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow." On energy he said, ''We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. . ." The President also clearly addressed climate change legislation; and called for investments in a "re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry."

In the beginning of his remarks, the President focused on the struggling economy and said, ". . .while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."

On all these critical issues he said the, "day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here. Now is the time to act boldly and wisely -- to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight."

He said, "It begins with energy. We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

"Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders -- and I know you don’t either. It is time for America to lead again. Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history -- an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology. We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

"But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

"As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it. . ."

The President concluded with a plea for bipartisanship and said, "I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

"And if we do -- if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, 'something worthy to be remembered.'"

Access the complete speech (
click here). Access a video of the President's address (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

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