This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.
President Obama spoke to Congress Tuesday night, but his real audience was the American people. He sought to convince them of two contrasting things at once: that this recession is the most severe since the Great Depression, and that his aggressive policies will help us emerge from it stronger.
He succeeded on both fronts. His rhetoric was inspirational but not insincere. It was forthright yet optimistic. Americans know all too well the reality of this economic pain, and so would not tolerate anything less than candor from the new president. But they also expected their leader to give them reason for hope.
Obama spelled out some details of his vision for the coming years, and may have frustrated some by not providing even more. The absence of specifics to this point has been notable, but will come Thursday with the unveiling of his first proposed budget to Congress. Rather, Obama laid out the scope of the problem, the outlines of a solution and a reminder that the stalled economy cannot preclude attacking America's other problems. Those include a broken health-care system, entitlements poised to crash and an unsustainable energy policy.
"Now is the time to act boldly and wisely to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity," he said.
We applaud his determination not to let the economy blind him to these other needs, though his would be an extremely ambitious agenda even in strong economic times. How he will accomplish it all while cutting taxes for 95 percent of people is beyond us.
Obama talked about his economic plan, the need to prod banks to lend, his desire to increase financial regulation and his pledge to cut the budget deficit in half.
These are all imperative, but the importance of this speech lay in how it was likely to make the American people feel. The most-needed economic stimulus is an infusion of security for people who fear losing jobs, health care, retirement income and kids' college tuition.
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