Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

President Obama Outlines Economic Recovery Plan in Gaston Hall

With the national spotlight shining on the Hilltop, President Obama offered his vision to rebuild the foundation of America’s economy and return economic prosperity to the nation in an address in Gaston Hall Tuesday morning that capped off 24 hours of excitement and anticipation throughout campus.

Speaking in front of an auditorium packed with students, White House guests and media, Obama said that his administration has taken significant steps in its first 100 days to upend the economic downturn, but that much work remained in order to rebuild the foundation that will ensure a prosperous and sustainable economy for years to come.

Obama began his speech by discussing the $787 billion economic stimulus plan that he signed into law in April, saying that it was a necessary measure to stimulate spending and lending across the market. He added that countries that have historically responded to recessions by stimulating spending have experienced more speedy recoveries.

“Since the problems we face have all been feeding off of each other . we’ve had no choice,” he said. “Economists on the left and the right agree that the last thing the government should do during a recession is cut back on spending.”

Obama said that the stimulus package has been just one piece of his plan toward economic recovery, which also includes strengthening the credit market, helping homeowners refinance their troubled mortgages, working with foreign leaders to reform international regulations and stabilizing the nation’s battered auto industry.

The president said that the economy has shown signs of recovery, but warned that there would be “more job loss, more foreclosures and more pain before it ends.”

In the latter portion of his speech, Obama outlined the elements of his recovery plan, urging leaders from across the political spectrum to respond to the extraordinary demands of the times. His five-step plan included enacting new financial regulations to prevent “reckless risk-taking,” investing in education reform, committing to renewable energy development, reforming the health care system to lower consumer costs and lowering the federal debt.

“It is my firm belief that our next task, beginning now, is to make sure such a crisis never happens again,” he said.

Obama said that restoring America’s educational prominence on the international stage would require a commitment to improve educational programs beginning in early childhood.

“By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world,” he said to much applause.

Obama reaffirmed his commitment to restoring education in the sciences, saying that he hopes to see “our best and our brightest commit themselves to making things,” rather than having so many college graduates “manipulate numbers.”

Obama also urged Congressional leaders to act swiftly on the other parts of his plan, calling for the speedy implementation of an economic framework to commit to renewable-energy, development despite the recession and saying that he expects to receive a bill by the end of the year offering new financial regulations. He urged bipartisan effort to address these measures and others – including restoring Social Security and reforming the tax code – saying that progress must not be impeded in Washington by “an attention span that has only gotten shorter with the 24-hour news cycle.”

“The difficulties can’t serve as an excuse for inaction – not anymore,” he added. “We have been called to govern in extraordinary times, and that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility.”

The speech – which was supposed to begin at 11:30 a.m. but was several minutes behind schedule – lasted approximately 40 minutes longer than most presidential addresses. Obama received two standing ovations that lasted slightly under one minute – first after being introduced by University President John J. DeGioia and later after concluding his remarks – and his speech was interrupted on several occasions by brief applause from the audience.

Obama began his speech by thanking DeGioia and the university for hosting the address, drawing laughs for joking about the university president’s 7-year-old son, John Thomas DeGioia.

“Thanks for bringing your family, especially J.T. We’re going to invite him over to hang out with the girls,” he said.

Several individuals protested Obama’s support for abortion rights and his economic plans outside of the university’s front gates, leading a handful of students to organize a counter-protest.

Although many students signed up for the event through an online lottery that was announced Monday morning, only several hundred students were selected to attend. Many students watched the address, which was broadcast on national television, at numerous locations set up around campus. University spokesperson Julie Bataille did not confirm the number of students that registered for the speech, but said that approximately half of Gaston Hall was reserved for White House guests.

Beth Kenefick (COL ’09) said before the speech that she was one of nearly 100 students to receive a ticket this morning after joining a waitlist last night. Sitting in her seat in the back row of the Gaston balcony, Kenefick said that she was cold after standing outside Healy Hall with three roommates beginning at 8 a.m.

“I think people were there at 3 a.m.,” she said.

Tabari Baker, a first-year graduate student in the university’s Tumor Biology program, said that he was surprised to receive a ticket from the lottery Monday evening, especially since he did not enter until late in the afternoon. “I feel kind of like Charlie in the chocolate factory,” he said.

Baker said after the speech that he supported Obama’s call for investment in science education and research.

“Hopefully the graduate students will get more money here in science,” he said.

Obama previously spoke at Georgetown in September 2006.

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