Calling this a “day of reckoning, ” President Barack Obama told Congress and a recession-weary nation Tuesday that he’s charting a new course out of financial depths and ultimately to a prosperous future. Some highlights:
The president said more money will be needed to rescue troubled banks beyond the $700 billion committed last year. He promised he would slash a $1.3 trillion budget deficit by half by the end of his term in 2013, mostly by ending U.S. combat in Iraq and eliminating some tax cuts for the wealthy. He said his staff has identified $2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years.
Obama urged lawmakers to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change by creating a cap-and-trade system of limits and pollution allowances, especially for industries such as utilities with coal-burning power plants. He said the budget he will send to Congress on Thursday will call for $15 billion a year in federal spending to spur development of environmentally friendly energy sources such as wind and solar, biofuels, clean coal and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Obama said his budget request will create new incentives for teacher performance and support for innovative education programs. He asked every American to commit to completing a year or more of higher education or career training.
Obama touched on his intention to chart new strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did not bring up Iran and North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions were a frequent target of George W. Bush.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana, said the stimulus “will grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt. Who amongst us would ask our children for a loan so we could spend the money we do not have on things we do not need?”