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Friday, February 6, 2009

Apologies over, Obama throws down gauntlet

Barbara Ferguson, Arab News

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama warned yesterday that failure to act on an economic recovery package could plunge the nation into a long-lasting recession that might prove irreversible, and made a fresh call to a recalcitrant Congress to move quickly.

Last week he struggled to deal with mounting anger regarding the excesses of the wealthy on Wall Street, he criticized “greed and irresponsibility,” then declared that the Wall Street bonuses — $18 billion paid out in Wall Street bonuses last year — were “shameful.”

This week, he announced that companies getting future bailout funds would have to cap executive compensation at $500,000 and place limits on stock options.

Condemning a “culture of narrow self-interest and short-germ gain at the expense of everything else,” Obama said that while “we believe success should be rewarded... what gets people upset, and rightfully so, are executives being rewarded for failure.”

In his first op-ed piece as president, Obama wrote in The Washington Post yesterday that each day without his stimulus package, Americans would lose more jobs, savings and homes.

“This recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose five million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse,” Obama wrote.

His message came as congressional leaders struggled to control the huge stimulus bill that’s been growing larger by the day in the Senate. The addition of a new tax break for homebuyers Wednesday evening sent the price tag well past $900 billion.

Obama, meanwhile, has grown combative since his apologies this week over his administration’s chief performance officer withdrew her nomination because of unpaid taxes, and, on the same day, the president’s choice to be secretary of health and human services withdrew his nomination, also because of his unpaid taxes.

Making matters worse, Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer pulled announced their resignations just hours before Obama was to hold a host of individual interviews with major broadcast networks.

His sessions with the news anchors turned into a series of ‘mea culpas’: “I messed up,” he told CBS’s Katie Couric.

“I screwed up,” he told NBC’s Brian Williams.

“This is self-induced injury,” he told ABC’s Charles Gibson.

His most thoughtful response was with CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “I campaigned on change in Washington, bottom-up politics, and I don’t want to send a message to the American people that there are two sets of standards — one for the powerful people and one for ordinary folks who are working every day and paying taxes.”

Having apologized earlier this week, Obama has now grown combative. Americans voted for him, not the other guy, he told Americans, and demanded that lawmakers “put aside politics” and start working together — a statement aimed mainly at the Republican lawmakers who prefer tax cuts to a new spending to bounce Americans out of its financial mess.

“In the past few days I’ve heard criticisms of this plan that echo the very same failed theories that help lead us into this crisis — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems,” the president said at the White House Wednesday.

“I reject that theory, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change.”

Senate Democratic leaders hope for passage of the legislation by Friday at the latest, although prospects appear to hinge on crafting a series of spending reductions that would make the bill more palatable to centrists in both parties.

With the Senate preparing to vote on its version of the economic stimulus package, Obama has stepped up his sales pitch to put public pressure on lawmakers to approve it.

His latest plea came on the same day the economy dealt with another dose of bad news: A massive jump in jobless claims and another round of weak retail sales.

Initial jobless claims rose to 626,000, a 26-year high, the Labor Department said. And the number of claims by people continuing to apply for unemployment benefits reached a new record of nearly 4.8 million.

The housing tax break was the most notable attempt to date to add help for the crippled industry and gave Republicans a victory as they work to remake the legislation more to their liking.

1 comment:

Ted said...

No to “stimulus” bill. Here’s why:
Since Obama’s earnest drive to convince the nation to weaken its economic strength through redistribution as well as weaken its national defense, has confirmed the very threats to our Republic’s survival that the Constitution was designed to avert, it no longer is sustainable for the United States Supreme Court and Military Joint Chiefs to refrain from exercising WHAT IS THEIR ABSOLUTE CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY TO DEFEND THE NATION FROM UNLAWFUL USURPATION. The questions of Obama’s Kenyan birth and his father’s Kenyan/British citizenship (admitted on his own website) have been conflated by his sustained unwillingnes to supply his long form birth certificate now under seal, and compounded by his internet posting of a discredited ‘after-the-fact’ short form ‘certificate’. In the absence of these issues being acknowledged and addressed, IT IS MANIFEST THAT OBAMA REMAINS INELIGIBLE TO BE PRESIDENT UNDER ARTICLE 2 OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION. Being a 14th Amendment ‘citizen’ is not sufficient. A ‘President’ MUST BE an Article 2 ‘natural born citizen’ AS DEFINED BY THE FRAMERS’ INTENT.