Thursday, January 08, 2009

Doomsday Minus Twelve

The Barack Obama countdown to saving the American economy continues today, this time with his warning, "A bad situation could become dramatically worse."

In what the transition team describes as a major speech at George Mason University this morning, the President-Elect says:

"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."

On Day One minus twelve, Obama is rallying public support for the coming Congressional battle to deploy up to $1 trillion more to stop the economic slide.

Yesterday, Democratic legislators were warned by what the New York Times calls "a startling range of name-brand think more boldly than ever before."

Afterward, the "shell-shocked" chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, told a reporter, “The thing I wanted to ask was if there was some limit which we should be wary of? Is there some limit in terms of how much borrowing and debt creation we should take on?”

The answer to his unspoken question seems to be no, but Congressional Republicans are scrambling to find their role in the process as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicts a bill by the middle of next month and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promises "to make certain that any dollar spent to stimulate the economy will in fact achieve that outcome and produce jobs and opportunity."

After years of torpor on Capitol Hill, it's beginning to look like one of those speeded-up silent films with everyone racing around to get something done. It will be fascinating to hear what comes out after January 20th when they add the sound.

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