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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Obama Holds a Press Conference

    Okay, maybe it was just a formal press conference but in the subject matter was definitely serious. From the overwhelming emphasis on economic recovery to ethical, environmental, and national security issues, Obama’s rhetoric was much of what the American people heard over the past few months. On some subjects the president was specific, on others he was vague, but overall, he stuck to the overarching idea that the country’s path to recovery will be a long and arduous one.

    You might as well have muted your T.V. for the first five minutes of the hour-long press conference. Obama’s soaring speeches are might be loftily inspiring, but we’ve all heard them enough by now to want some fresh facts instead. The media was eager to get right down to things, questioning the president’s multi-trillion dollar deficit budget proposal for example. Obama was quick to defend both his spending plans and the long-term growth that he thinks will result from stable investments in education, reforming healthcare, and grapping with energy supply.

    It’s difficult to criticize a man who’s been in the white house for only a couple of months now. Both the public and press are rightfully demanding answers to the possible further explosion of the national debt and how exactly Obama’s policies will help reduce spending over the long haul. That seemed to be the president’s main emphasis, that bubble and bust economics that this country has grown so accustomed to will not and cannot sustain economic growth. By retooling American industry and innovation through investments in education, alternative energy, and reforming the shattered healthcare system, Obama seems certain that this country will emerge stronger and more stable years down the road. The biggest question perhaps is not so much how he plans to accomplish this so much as if these mechanisms will work towards extended economic growth.

    That’s the real multi-trillion dollar question. Obama’s clearly trying to use the state of the economy to promote his agenda; and why shouldn’t he? The people elected him on the basis that he would act where action had been avoided over the past eight years. After only a couple of months, there’s no denying that he’s got a lot done. From closing Guantanamo Bay, to passing three quarters of a trillion dollar spending bill, to reversing the ban on federal funding for stem cell research, “change” whether you agree with his politics or not, has undeniably come.

    The president does deserve credit for what he’s done so far given the fact that he inherited a country with a nearly 10 trillion dollar debt, trillion dollar deficit, backwards domestic and foreign policies, and a pair of wars to top things off. He seems to still be riding this idea of passed down problems, but we all know that these issues will eventually surely and soundly transform into Obama’s sole responsibilities.

    There’s sensible resistance to some of Obama’s policies, particularly regarding the exorbitant spending increases in the national budget. While the president claimed in the press conference that all of this spending is geared towards investments now so that they’ll have to spend less later, there is legitimate concern that much of this money funneled through bureaucratic government channels will be lost or inefficiently used. This is what both Obama’s policies and his presidency will hinge on. If the economy “recovers” then he will be praised. If the economy flounders then he will cursed.

    Part of the problem stems from that fact that this country has ignored many key issues for years. While we should have been focusing insuring healthcare for all, preserving economically important ecosystems, and paying off debt, we deferred important matters in favor of lackadaisically living our lives as if we could continue on like this. What Obama is trying to do now is to address some of those dire concerns head on. In short, dealing with matters quickly now that we should have been spending more money and investment on over many years is not going to be cheap or easy.

    With the economy dominating the media’s questions they did manage to squeak in a few non-financial issues. There was one fluttering attempt to get Obama to speak about how his race has affected his dealing both at home and abroad, but the president’s response was basically that he’s been too focused on the economy since taking office to really worry about how people perceive his race.

    Someone else asked about the increasing drug cartel violence in Mexico and how the Obama views that as a national security concern. The president reassured that America was committed to curbing cartel related crime by increasing border control security through funding. He also briefly mentioned how they needed to work to keep weapons and money out of the hands of these criminals, but avoided the touchy subject of how that goal might be accomplished. It would have been interesting if he had mentioned the pushes in several states now to propose legalization of drugs such as marijuana as a way to cut off cartels from funding. Economically and logically it makes perfect sense, but being the as socially and politically savvy as Obama is, he’s wise enough to know to leave that issue for the states to deal with.

    The press conference might be over, but the uncertainty over the future of the country lingers on. No amount of rhetoric or planning can change that yet. Only when things start to get better or worse will we be able to truly judge the merit of Obama’s plans. Will his massive central planning result in a more stable state and long-term economic growth or a bureaucratic sprawling government full of waste and corruption? That’s the key question in all of this and one that’s worthy of fierce debate. Some have already made their decision, claiming that they rather see their president and country fail rather than have democratic reforms succeed at fixing many of the nation’s ills. If that’s what you truly believe in then you have serious issues of your own. Let’s just give our new president another few months before we condemn his evil, anti-capitalist, and big government politics. After all, in many areas he’s accomplished more change in two months than his predecessor George Bush did in two terms.

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