Okay I realize I'm posting back-to-back-to-back so forgive me but I wanted to give a report on how the news conference went to those who are interested but didn't want to sit through an hour of boringness (so I'll do most of it in bullet-point style)...
The press conference started with a brief introductory speech which was aimed at convincing the American people of the need for and the possible success of the proposed economic stimulus package. It should be said that A LOT of the details of the economic stimulus package will me hashed-out in tomorrow's (2-10-2009) press conference with Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner
. So some of the details this time around were maybe a little vague, but here's what he had to say:
- Talked about Indiana's 10% unemployment rate increase from last year
- Bottom line of the package is to create 4 million American jobs
- $2500 tax credit to those paying for college
- $100s of billions in tax cuts to middle class
- Investment in the healthcare industry and alternative energy industry
- "loosen" credit - getting people and businesses easier access to credit by making transparency and oversight in the credit system (meaning no more bonuses for executives)
- Jobs created will include fixing roads, building wind turbines, building fuel efficient cars, teachers, and firefighters
- He talked about how creating jobs now such as building new schools will pay of short term with the immediate job and long term with the investment in children
- Other jobs will be in making government buildings more fuel efficient which will lessen the amount that tax payers have to pay to maintain them
- Current bill calls for $800 billion from government
Next was the question and answer session. I'll only include questions that pertained to the economic stimulus plan...
1.What would lead you to say that the recession could be permanent?
If you delay acting on this economy you potentially create a negative spiral that is even harder to get out of. It happened to Japan in the 90s (the so-called "lost decade") where the country had no significant growth for ten years. The problems are accelerating if we look at how bad unemployment rates have gotten even over the last three months. The economic stimulus plan must be passed and soon.
2. The bipartisanship that you spoke about in your campaign is completely lacking in the passing of this bill. Is your staff moving away from bipartisanship?
It's going to take time to break down the habits of old. I have three republicans in my cabinet which will hopefully help build up trust over time. But bottom line right now is that we can't afford to see congress play usual political games, we must deliver for the American people. Reasons for lack of bipartisanship in this bill are: 1. Some republicans believe that the government has no place interfering in the economy in this way. 2. There are programs that are good policy that are not job creators and therefore can be dealt with later (left off this bill).
3. If your plan works it's going to increase consumer spending; should we not pay debt off first before feeding the economy?
The reason for the economic crisis is banks taking risks with other people's money on shaky assets. That led to contraction of credit, businesses then couldn't make payroll or inventory. Sequence that we need to take is: 1. Stop downward spiral by putting money in the pockets of the American people by loosening credit. Then, 2. We can worry about how we can operate more prudently.
4. Experts say that to fix the credit crisis alone it could take $1 trillion, is the current $350 billion that's left enough?
The second half of the "tent" money (money used to bail out the credit industry) has to be spent well. I have to worry about how to use the money wisely with transparency. Part of the problem is that nobody really knows what's on the bank's books. We need to open things up and restore some trust.
5. How will the American people gauge the success of the plan? When do we know we need to go to plan B?
1. Creation of 4 million new jobs or saving 4 million current jobs, 2. Are we seeing credit markets operate effectively?, 3. Have we stabilized the housing market and housing values?, 4. Biggest measure of success will be if we're stopping the shedding of jobs and actually growing new jobs.
6. Are you going to impose the issue to banks that they must use government given money to loosen credit?
Pass to Tim (Geithner) tomorrow.
Disclaimer: I have never nor do I consider myself a reporter. I'm working off of some notes I took during the press conference. If there are any serious errors let me know. I urge you to actually watch the press conference on youtube.