Obama’s Speech on the Economy

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It’s like a brief history of US economics, a nice refresher course for those of us who have forgotten a lot since college. I do like that he opened with a quote from Alexander Hamilton and speaks in-depth with apparent subject knowledge, rather than superficially with sound bites (though he does throw in a few one-liners for good measure – he’s a politician, not a professor, after all). I feel I may be warming up to this Obama fellow; still, rhetoric is one thing, and policy decisions are another.

The great task before our founders was putting into practice the ideal that government could simultaneously serve liberty and advance the common good. For Alexander Hamilton, the young secretary of the treasury, that task was bound to the vigor of the American economy. Hamilton had a strong belief in the power of the market, but he balanced that belief with a conviction that human enterprise, and I quote, “may be beneficially stimulated by prudent aids and encouragements on the part of the government.” Government, he believed, had an important role to play in advancing our common prosperity. So he nationalized the state Revolutionary War debts, weaving together the economies of the states and creating an American system of credit and capital markets.

You can watch the video of the speech here, or read the transcript here.

2 Replies to “Obama’s Speech on the Economy”

  1. This quote makes me “chill” to Obama – not that I’ve ever really supported him or his policies. Hamilton was a protectionist and that destroys the notion of “strong belief in the power of the market.” I’m much more of a Jefferson guy.

    That said, I have been following his campaign with interest, so I’ll definitely check out this speech in full.

  2. yeah, taken out of context the quote could lend a protectionist slant to the speech. the whole speech is much more balanced than that. he is a consummate politician, always trying to please everyone. what i liked about the speech was the depth of discourse, something i’d welcome after the last eight years.

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