President-elect Barack Obama laid out his case for an economic-stimulus package this morning, warning that the current recession could "linger for years" unless Congress acts to pump historic sums of federal cash into the economy. He added that the current economic crisis is “unlike any we have seen in our lifetime.”
We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime - a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks. Nearly two million jobs have now been lost, and on Friday we are likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. Manufacturing has hit a twenty-eight year low. Many businesses cannot borrow or make payroll. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage. Many workers are watching their life savings disappear. And many, many Americans are both anxious and uncertain of what the future will hold.
I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world.
And he made clear he understands how we got here:
This crisis did not happen solely by some accident of history or normal turn of the business cycle, and we won't get out of it by simply waiting for a better day to come, or relying on the worn-out dogmas of the past. We arrived at this point due to an era of profound irresponsibility that stretched from corporate boardrooms to the halls of power in Washington, DC. For years, too many Wall Street executives made imprudent and dangerous decisions, seeking profits with too little regard for risk, too little regulatory scrutiny, and too little accountability. Banks made loans without concern for whether borrowers could repay them, and some borrowers took advantage of cheap credit to take on debt they couldn't afford. Politicians spent taxpayer money without wisdom or discipline, and too often focused on scoring political points instead of the problems they were sent here to solve. The result has been a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets, and our government.
Expect Republicans to squawk at talk like this. But the fact is that conservative governance got us into this mess. Obama (and the rest of us) are betting that progressive governance will get us out.
Obviously, this isn't how I would handle it.
I'd say to the American people, "Look, I'm done pretending that these evil Republican bastards and their greedy, short-sighted economic policies haven't put us in this deep economic ditch. They want tax cuts to please their base, but they're not getting them BECAUSE WE ALREADY KNOW THEY WON'T WORK.
"What will work is what I've proposed, and it's up to you, the people, to call your congress critters and senators to tell them pointblank: they either support our massive stimulus package, or you and your neighbors will be storming their homes and offices with pitchforks and torches. I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of treating the ravings of these mendacious excuses for human beings as reality, and you should be, too.
"We didn't do our job, any of us. If we had, we wouldn't be in this mess. In the name of bipartisanship, we actually treated their destructive ideas as if they had value. Boy, were we wrong! Well, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Time to tell these Republican maroons to get the hell out of the way, or they can go back to the free market to find out what they're really worth.
"Thank you, and may God bless the countless victims of this Republican greed."