Obama Urges End to Politics as Usual

President Obama focuses on sagging national confidence and economy in inauguration address

By Danielle Lee

Barack Obama called Americans into a "new era of responsibility" during his inauguration Tuesday as the 44th president of the United States, echoing the words and planned policies of his past few months' transition to power. The financial crisis was one of the first issues Obama touched on in his address to the 2 million people gathered in Washington, D.C. and billions more watching on screens around the world.

"Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age," Obama said. Calling on examples of the nation's history of struggle and sacrifice, Obama said U.S. greatness must be earned, both domestically and abroad.

"Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account," Obama said, "to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day–because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Two weeks prior to his oath of office, Obama announced his appointment Nancy Killefer to the newly created role of chief performance officer in part to monitor the budget. Killefer has since withdrawn her name because of a tax problem.

Obama made the announcement on the day the Congressional Budget Office announced a $1.2 trillion deficit for this year that will grow with the implementation of his recovery and reinvestment plan.

On Tuesday, Obama said the economy called for bold and swift action to create jobs and build a foundation of growth, specifically by building new infrastructure, harnessing science to improve technology and healthcare, and improving schools.

Citing the sapping of confidence brought on by these crises, Obama said there would be challeneges to be faced, but that they would be met.

"On this day," Obama said, "we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

Posted January 21, 2009 in Politics & Legislation