Flint Trumps Gore

The Gore endorsement rally (with a special appearance by Detroit Piston Chauncey Billups), but Obama’s speech in Flint, in which he detailed his economic plans, plans the Wall Street Journal describes as “a return to an older-style big-government Democratic platform skeptical of market forces.” From his Journal interview:

“Globalization and technology and automation all weaken the position of workers,” he said, and a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably….The heart of Sen. Obama’s spending program is his plan to spend $15 billion a year for 10 years on energy technology. It would be funded by revenue collected from a separate Obama proposal to cap greenhouse emissions through a system of trading pollution permits. Sen. Obama would auction those permits to producers of carbon dioxide, such as electric utilities, and figures the sales would yield about $100 billion a year. Most of that would go to consumers as rebates on utility bills, he said. He also would fund an “infrastructure reinvestment bank” that would finance $60 billion in high-speed railways, improved energy grids and other projects over a decade. He would double spending on basic research, subsidize investment in high-speed Internet hook-ups, and offer $4,000 a year in tuition credits for students who later perform public services.

The focus on his economic stimulus reminded me of earlier chatter in The New Republic and, more recently, by John Cassidy in the New York Review of Books about Obama’s ties to behavioral economists. the Flint speech tilts Obama towards Cassidy’s argument that Clintonian-style working around the edges of the economy will not suffice.

Obama continues to offer the promise of “green jobs,” planning to spend $150 billion to “create up to 5 million jobs,” offering as examples a Pennsylvania wind turbine factory and the manufacture of “hybrid or electric cars.”

My energy plan will invest $150 billion over the next ten years to establish a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million jobs over the next two decades. Good jobs, like the ones I saw in Pennsylvania where workers make wind turbines, or the jobs that will be created when plug-in hybrids or electric cars start rolling off the assembly line here in Michigan. We’ll help manufacturers — particularly in the auto industry — convert to green technology, and help workers learn the skills they need.

(On the Media looked at the rhetoric of “green jobs” last month.)

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