Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, has written a piece for the website on what was missing from Obama's speech. Here's how it begins:
Two weeks ago, at his first press conference, President Barack Obama grabbed our attention by insisting that we face a potential "lost decade" of growth--a reference to the prolonged slump in Japan during the 1990s. As a statement of our predicament, this was brilliant, breathtaking, and refreshing: Remember that most American presidents choke on the word "recession" and would never consider hinting at anything worse.
The prospect of a lost decade concentrates the mind and urges consideration for bold proposals. We've never faced anything like this, at least in our lifetimes, so surely we must reach out for solutions that have never previously seemed reasonable.Two weeks later, looking back and thinking about how Tuesday night's speech moves us forward, the storyline seems more confused. President Obama spoke at length and convincingly about the benefits of government action in the areas of energy, health care, and education. These are important, perhaps even vital, to the country's future--but none strike at the heart of our most pressing economic problems.