Facing the Economic Aftermath

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on May 12, 2009

AftermathObama has four major issues on the agenda for his presidency:  three he wants to deal with and one he inherited.   Those issues are: the current economic recession, education, health care, and energy.  All of these issues are pressing.  Massive government spending needs to happen to keep this recession from spiralling into a full blown depression.  We must maintain high standards in education so as to make sure that the next generation of American worker will be as competitive in the world stage as the previous one.  We must refigure health care for moral reasons as it is unacceptable that one of the richest nations in the world should leave millions of its citizens without health care.  Energy innovation is an issue of  both national security and economic prosperity in that it keeps America’s money at home instead of sending it abroad.

All of these projects will significantly drain the nation’s finances in the short term.  We agree that these plans are necessary but the money to pay for them must come from somewhere.  As we see it, of the four agenda items, the development of a more efficient energy source is the most likely to produce the money needed to fuel the other initiatives. 

As a result, President Obama needs, then, to set much bolder goals for America’s energy industry.  What we need is a project that will be far reaching, innovative, and grand in scope than the current initiatives.  In an earlier post, we suggested something like a Manhattan project that would ultimately make America energy independent within 5 years.  Without such a project, we have to wonder what the nation will do to make up for the humangous deficits it now creates by implementing plans which are both necessary and expensive.

A focus on the energy industry is, however, only half the solution.  President Obama needs to simultaneously, streamline government programs so as to get the most work for the American dollar while he focusses on all four of these areas.  He cannot let inefficient programs eat into the money that the country has available for  innovations.  Unless there is significantly more trimming of the government fat there is the gravest of dangers that America will be unable to afford new plans of action in these areas, that we will fail to make the changes that will make the country competitive in the future, and that we will suffer for it in the global marketplace.

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