Ten Thoughts On The President's Speech Last Night
1) "The USA will emerge stronger than before" That's a tall order. I'd settle for we will recover. Given the demographics of the changing world we live in (read Zakaria's Post-American World), I wonder if that's a promise the President should be making.
2) I read the speech in its entirety twice and did not find one mention of immigration. The President says we owe our prosperity to our ingenuity and tenacity. I think that's true but a lot of that ingenuity and tenacity came from first and second generation immigrants. If we are not prepared to open up our borders more broadly to the best and brightest and toughest in this world, all the rest is just words
3) His recovery plan has three initiatives, a revised TARP, HASP, and stimulus. That's it. I did not get the sense that there is more after that. I don't know if that's good or bad, but that's the hand he's playing.
4) Hardest working people on earth? C'mon Barack. Don't bullshit us. Go back and read number two.
5) He's also got three domestic priorities; energy, health care, and education. He's right that our economy is highly impacted by them. I'm limpressed that he's picked some stuff to focus on and I think these are three great areas to focus on for long term sustainability.
6) 95pcnt of the jobs created with stimulus will be private sector jobs. That's a great factoid. Let's put a big pie chart on the front page of recovery.gov and chart that in real time please.
7) A new accountability for money spent saving banks. Barack said "I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assitance they receive". Good luck with that. Money is fungible. It doesn't have RFID tags on it. Trust me on this one. I know a bit about handing over money to companies. There's only one way to know it will be spent well and that is smart, honest, and capable management. An army of accountants is going to get unleashed on the banking sector and god help them and us.
8) "its not about helping banks – its about helping people" I'm with the president on this. I also appreciate his statement that his job is to solve the problem. He's got that right. I'll be measuring him on how he does on that measure. Its a hard problem made harder by the people whose house he was in last night. I'm rooting for him. We should all be rooting for him.
9) Energy – the best part of his speech was the bit about energy. He gets it. But the auto sector has the potential to be the "vietnam" of his energy plan. Act swiftly and courageously there Mr President or it could be a noose around your neck. Just look at GM. In two short months they are back on your doorstep with their hands out. When a portfolio company acts like that in our business, they are dead on arrival.
10) Education – I think the President missed an opportunity last night to call on the private sector to invest in education. There are literally thousands of amazing entrepreneurs working in this industry and I think they'll collectively do more to reform and reinvent education than anything that comes out of washington.
11) Fiscal discipline. Its a bit surreal to be talking about balancing the budget in light of stimulus, HASP, and TARP. The only way its going to happen is huge cuts in defense spending and a wholesale re-evaluation of our domestic spending priorities. Watching Pelosi and Biden behind the President was distracting and a reminder that as well intenioned as Obama is, he's got an impossible job.
That's all I've got. Please let me know what you thought of it in the comments.