What Should Obama Say Monday Night?

Posted by | February 8, 2009 10:33 | Filed under: Top Stories

The president gives his first prime-time news conference Monday night.  Here’s what some experts say he should say, as gathered by Politico:

Elizabeth A. Sherman, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Admin., GW University:

We can return to a robust, expansive and just economy but to do so will require three things: (1) targeting tax cuts and other incentives to get the private sector investing and hiring again with confidence in the return of customers and profits; (2) generating jobs through infrastructure construction and green industries; and, (3) helping those hardest hit with expanded unemployment, retraining and health care.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, author of The United States Since 1980.

He should tell the country that the economy lost more than 600,000 jobs in January (this is before the jobs numbers were released) and that it is likely to lose as many or more in February. The only thing that can stop this slide is a large government stimulus package.


He should tell the public that we got into this mess because the people running economic policy were unbelievably irresponsible and allowed an $8 trillion housing bubble to grow unchecked. They either refused to notice this huge bubble, which should have been evident to any competent economist, or somehow thought the disappearance of $8 trillion in wealth when the bubble burst ($110,000 for every homeowner in the country) would not create a problem for the economy.

Thomas E. Mann, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings:

He should tell the country that our economy runs a serious risk of deflation and extended recession with growing unemployment, possibly spiraling into a depression. Cleaning up the financial markets and quickly passing a large stimulus are essential if we are to avoid economic catastrophe. The stimulus needs to be very large and heavily weighted toward spending. To repeat: stimulus means spending to increase demand. The focus on pork barrel spending by critics and the media is akin to patrolling at the margins of a disaster. Most tax cuts will be less effective than spending. Efforts to tweak the package to get as many dollars out the door as quickly as possible and to direct that spending to programs that will have most long term benefits are useful, but those that would cut its overall size or reduce funds to cash-starved states are not.

Bradley A. Smith, Professor of Law at Capital University Law School.

The problem is, I am not sure that there is a respectable intellectual case for this stimulus bill. So the President might want to explain the problem, state that it is as important to get it right as to get it fast, note that Congress began drafting this before he took office (washing his hands a bit), and state that he wants the Senate to start over following some clear, enunciated principles that he sets forth in the speech. He’ll still meet opposition. There is not 80%, or even 60%, public support for his approach. But he’d break the fall.

Eric Liu, Author and former Clinton White House adviser, WA:

President Obama needs to tell a story, in this sequence and with this tone:


Our economy has faltered because of a decade of national leaders in every sector who worshipped at the altar of the market. We stopped investing in the future; worse, we started spending our grandchildren’s inheritance to gamble for quick and illusory riches. Government fell asleep at the switch, letting scammers scam and neglecting the state of our economy’s human and physical infrastructure. Now we have to take bold corrective action — and we will. My recovery plan puts money in middle-class pockets right now, invests strategically for the future, and sends a signal to the world that America will act.

Larry J. Sabato, Professor of Politics, University of Virginia:

Hey, Mr. President–Any teacher can tell you: The secret to a good lecture is pie charts. Well, visual aids, generally. Budget pep talks, even from a charismatic President, are boring. Numbers are not Americans’ long suit. So go back to Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot, and use some visual aids to help viewers break down the enormous sum of the stimulus bill. Help people understand what you are trying to do by showing them, not just telling them. And isn’t it about time to marry your TV appeal with all the fancy technologies and lists of supporters that your campaign pioneered?

 So, what would you have him say?

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Copyright 2009 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.

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