Thursday, February 14, 2008

Obama steps to the fore

The dynamic of the presidential race shifted Wednesday, as Barack Obama assumed the mantle of Democratic frontrunner, and he and John McCain turned their fire on one another.

McCain accused Obama of "lacking specifics" in his speeches, and of being a (cue the sinister voice...) *liberal.*

Obama, speaking at a factory in Wisconsin, unleashed some scathing rhetoric toward his rivals, Democratic and Republican, blaming Washington for the economic woes that are currently gripping the nation. “We are not standing on the brink of recession due to forces beyond our control,” Mr. Obama said at the Janesville General Motors assembly plant. “The fallout from the housing crisis that’s cost jobs and wiped out savings was not an inevitable part of the business cycle, it was a failure of leadership and imagination in Washington.” Just yesterday General Motors reported that the company had posted the largest loss on record for an American automotive company.

And of course, being at an automotive assembly plant, he took the obligatory shot at NAFTA. “You know, in the years after her husband signed Nafta, Senator Clinton would go around talking about how great it was and how many benefits it would bring,” Mr. Obama said. “Now that she’s running for president, she says we need a time-out on trade. No one knows when this time-out will end. Maybe after the election.”

But he also took a frontrunners position in proposing solutions to our nations infrastructure problems and our need to move away from fossil fuel consumption.
In his speech in Janesville, Mr. Obama proposed creating a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to invest $60 billion over 10 years and create nearly 2 million new jobs in the construction field. He said the program would be paid for by ending the Iraq war. He also renewed his call to create an energy plan to invest $150 billion over 10 years to establish a “green energy sector” to add up to 5 million jobs in the next two decades.

“It’s time to stop spending billions of dollars a week trying to put Iraq back together and start spending the money on putting America back together instead,” Mr. Obama said. He added, “We’ll also provide funding to help manufacturers convert to green technology and help workers learn the skills they need for these jobs.”

No doubt about it, the next president is going to face a crumbling infrastructure. The next president will also be charged with starting us down the path to recovery for our addiction to fossil fuels. The challenges ahead are daunting, and the solutions that will be effective will not be simple. They will, in fact, meet stiff resistance by entrenched interests and obstinate fools.

Fortunately, as a society, we are approaching critical mass, and the numbers of the sane and reasonable are growing while the dinosaurs are dwindling faster than the fuels derived from their dead predecessors.

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