Obama pledges to rebuild U.S. | TSLN.com

Obama pledges to rebuild U.S.

Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor

Photo by Chris ClaytonPresident Barack Obama promised to rebuild America's infrastructure and help rural farmers in poor countries in his inaugural speech.

OMAHA (DTN) — Though President Barack Obama did not touch upon specific areas of the country in his inauguration speech, the 44th president declared to America “we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

Speaking about the state of the country, Obama touched on challenges from war, the struggling economy, home foreclosures, job losses, health care and schools. The U.S. must also become more energy independent given that energy from foreign countries will only “strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet,” Obama said.

“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. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

Since his campaign began, Obama has touted renewable energy sources and his cabinet selections, such as former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack for agriculture secretary, have also stated the Obama administration will aggressively push for an expansion of renewable-energy sources.

Seeking to change the perception of U.S. diplomacy around the world, Obama also promised foreign aid to promote agriculture in impoverished nations around the world. “To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds,” Obama said near the end of his speech. “And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.”

Obama told the crowd of millions in Washington that despite the economic troubles, the U.S. remains “the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.” He said the country must not back away from having big plans, and must begin focusing on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure for a 21st Century economy.

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“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” Obama said in his speech. “For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

Obama added that cynics will question the scale of the ambitions of his administration, but he added that the memories of cynics are short.

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — 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.”

Full inaugural speech: http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/obama_inaugural_address.html?hpid=topnews

chris clayton can be reached at chris.clayton@dtn.com.

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