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KAI RYSSDAL: It didn’t take long for the president to get to the point in his speech this morning. A minute-and-a-half by my watch:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some. But also, our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.
Too many homes have been lost, he said. Health care’s too expensive and too many people are out of work. And those are just the things we can count.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Less measurable, but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land. A nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.
Something, he said, that this country’s worked too hard to let happen.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive. Our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.
Which is right about where the Inaugural address became a little bit of a stump speech. Promises of more jobs and better infrastructure. Smart power grids and digital access. A new energy policy and better education.
If that sounds like a lot, well, it is.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them. That the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works. Whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
Don’t even get him started on the free market.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded us that, without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
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