All Eyes On Obama's Energy Plan  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Age has an article on the challenges awaiting Obama and the opportunity to make history via the green new deal - All eyes are on Obama, as history is his to write.

Franklin Roosevelt told Americans in his first inaugural address in 1933 that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself", before embarking on the New Deal, an ambitious and expansive recasting of government that lifted the country out of the Great Depression.

48 years later, Ronald Reagan stood on the same steps and declared: "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem." With that, Reagonomics was born and FDR's New Deal consensus was usurped by a philosophy built around free markets, privatisation, deregulation and lower taxes.

At this time of new turmoil, all eyes are trained on Obama. As with FDR and Reagan before him, the next chapter of American economic and political history is Obama's to write, and he will not waste time. On his first day in office, it is likely he will sign an economic stimulus bill into law that will authorise the greatest single federal expenditure in US history. Within this bill lies a package of measures to tackle climate change and develop a new energy economy that would not have been politically feasible were it not for the financial meltdown. As both FDR and Reagan understood, vision is nothing without opportunity.

Obama's approach to climate change provides encouraging insight into his governing philosophy.

Obama's head is neither in the sand nor the clouds on climate change. Instead, he sees an opening for a new era of opportunity in clean energy. He envisages a green goldrush with $US150 billion to support private-sector efforts to develop and commercialise wind, solar, geothermal and other technologies. He believes that this will create 5 million "green collar" jobs to compensate for the decline of old, unsustainable industries. He imagines yesterday's car workers in Detroit building tomorrow's wind turbines and solar panels. He also believes that, by replacing oil imports from the Middle East with domestic sources of alternative energy, there are national security and balance-of-trade pay-offs as well.

Obama resets the table by tackling climate change as an engine for economic prosperity as much as an environmental imperative. George Bush's ambivalence on the issue has seen America fall to the back of the pack, and Obama is determined to surge to the front through huge government and private-sector investment in technology, innovation and infrastructure.

Much has been and will be written about how Obama is a unique figure in American politics. However, his vision of a new, clean-energy economy owes much to the dual legacies of FDR and Ronald Reagan. It simultaneously embraces the New Deal belief that government is a positive force for economic change while tapping into Reagan's unshakeable confidence that the innovation and entrepreneurial instincts of the American people will prevail though any crisis.

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, the Illinois governor has found himself in a spot of bother after apparently being caught trying to sell the Senate seat Obama is vacating. The day before he'd stopped the state doing business with Bank Of America, which has the tinfoil brigade wondering if Blagojevich has been taken down in the same fashion that Eliot Spitzer was when he tried to derail the subprime menace - Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Suspends State Business with Bank of America and Is Then Promptly Arrested by the FBI on Corruption Charges.
Less than 24 hours later… Whamo.

I’m not saying that the guy isn’t a crook. He could be as crooked as the day is long. The timing of his arrest, however, is priceless.


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