Hadley Heath, senior policy analyst:
With one breath, President Obama pits teachers against wealthy Americans, and in the next breath he claims, “this isn’t about class warfare.” His insistence that we’re all in this together sounds hollow after his incessantly partisan finger-pointing over the last few months. His kum-bah-yah tone doesn’t undo his signature on highly unpopular party-line votes like Obamacare. This is the same Barack Obama who told us that words do indeed matter, but tonight Americans know his seemingly moderate speech -that included some old ideas that won’t work- is just words. It’s time for him to stop speaking and start listening to the American people.
Diana Lopez, senior fellow:
If Obama wants to stop the “political circus” and get to real solutions, then he should start by outlining funding for his plan during his speech, not promising details later. As far as cutting payroll taxes and incentivizing small businesses to hire more workers and raise wages, this seems like it could promote innovation and entrepreneurship, the true foundations of job creation. But is there any guarantee that stimulus funds will be used and tracked correctly, with transparency and oversight? Last time around, they weren’t.
Lori Drummer, senior fellow:
Despite the president’s breathless urgency, his speech was nothing more than a flashback. The president said that the criteria for government spending are how badly is the project is needed and how many jobs a project would create. But weren’t those the same qualifications he used to justify his trillion dollar shovel-ready stimulus plan? This was politics pure and simple. Meanwhile, we still await a real analysis of a written plan.
Charlotte Hays, senior fellow:
For a White House that has had problems with transparency, tonight the president was transparent–this was a transparently political speech. Best moment: When the president said he knew some in the Congress felt the best thing to do was for government to get out of the way, and the GOP couldn’t stop clapping. Did Abe Lincoln start OSHA? The president was so determined to portray the first Republican president as a big government guy that I half expected him to say that.
Anna Rittgers, senior fellow:
In tonight’s so-called “jobs speech,” Obama doubled-down on his failed economic policies.
The 2009 stimulus allocated $800 billion for infrastructure and public works programs. Since then, the economy has lost 2.3 million jobs, and the real unemployment rate (which includes discouraged workers) is now over 16 percent.
Obama’s proposed stimulus 2.0 would allocate $450 billion for presumably the same infrastructure and public works programs that we were supposed to get in the first stimulus package. Public sector spending will not revive the economy, and there was nothing in this speech that would give private sector job-creators any confidence to hire new employees or expand their businesses.
Obama offers no solutions, and no leadership–just words, just speeches.