Speaking before the Energy Department this morning, President Obama made a stirring defense of his stimulus package, and nailed his critics' ears to the wall:
As we are meeting, in the halls of Congress just down the street from here, there is a debate going on about the plan I have proposed, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. This isn't some abstract debate. Last week we learned that many of America's largest corporations are planning to lay off tens of thousands of workers. Today we learned that last week the number of new unemployment claims jumped to 626,000. Tomorrow we're expecting another dismal jobs report. On top of the 2.6 million jobs that we lost last year, we've lost half a million jobs each month for the last two months.
Now, I believe that legislation of such magnitude as has been proposed deserves the scrutiny that it has received over the last month. I think that's a good thing, that's the way democracy is supposed to work. But these numbers that we're seeing are sending an unmistakable message, and so are the American people. The time for talk is over. The time for action is now. Because we know that if we do not act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse. Crisis could turn into catastrophe for families and businesses across the country, and I refuse to let that happen.
We can't delay, and we can't go back to the same, worn-out ideas that led us here in the first place. In the last few days we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read, but you'd be very familiar with, because you've been hearing them the last ten years -- maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems, that government doesn't have a role to play, that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough. That we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They have taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars. And they have brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now it is time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.
The whole talk, in fact, was strikingly energetic, even inspiring -- especially for those of us waiting to see him come out fighting against the Republican ankle-biters he has to deal with. Later on, he lashes Republicans and their talking heads for how decidedly unserious their entire approach has been:
Now, I read the other day that critics of this plan ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to take advantage of state-of-the-art fuel efficiency. This is what they called pork. You know the truth. It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match.
And so when you hear these attacks, deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself: Are these folks serious? Is it any wonder we haven't had a real energy policy in this country?
No doubt the Republicans will be howling about how this ends "bipartisanship." Let them.