It wouldn't be a speech on the economic crisis without some nods to the fact that it began under the watch of the last president, George W. Bush. Today's speech from President Obama involved mostly sober assessment of the crash, but, befitting that rule, the president can't go letting people think he caused it. With that in mind, here are the jabs and semi-jabs the president threw at his political opponents today: little reminders that he didn't get us into this mess--he's just the guy trying to get us out.
[On his transition team's assessment of the damage:] Having concluded that it was too late to request a recount, I tasked my team with mapping out a plan to tackle the crisis on all fronts.
So, in the weeks and months that followed, we undertook a series of difficult steps to prevent that outcome. And we were forced to take those steps largely without the help of an opposition party which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve.
Launched hastily under the last administration, the TARP program was flawed, and we have worked hard to correct those flaws and manage it properly...because of our stewardship of this program, and the transparency and accountability we put in place, TARP is expected to cost the taxpayer at least $200 billion less than what was anticipated just this summer.
In reality, the deficit had been building dramatically over the previous eight years. Folks passed tax cuts and expensive entitlement programs without paying for any of it - even as health care costs kept rising, year after year. As a result, the deficit had reached $1.3 trillion when we walked into the White House. And I'd note: these budget busting tax cuts and spending programs were approved by many of the same people who are now waxing political about fiscal responsibility while opposing our efforts to reduce deficits by getting health care costs under control. It's a sight to see.
And a broader shot at the U.S. political system, the culture of Washington, and the media:
In the end, the economic crisis of the past year was not just the result of weaknesses in our economy. It was also the result of weaknesses in our political system. For decades, too many in Washington put off hard decisions. For decades, we've watched as efforts to solve tough problems have fallen prey to the bitterness of partisanship, to the prosaic concerns of politics, to ever-quickening news cycles, and to endless campaigns focused on scoring points instead of meeting our common challenges.