Muckraker: Grist on Politics

On the campaign trail in Reno, Nev., today, Barack Obama attempted to quell fears that the financial crisis would lead him to shelve key components of his agenda if he were elected.

During Friday’s debate, he said he would still “make sure we’re investing in energy … to solve this problem,” but also said there “may be individual components we can’t do” because of a tighter budget.

Today Obama clarified:

People have asked whether the size of this [financial bailout] plan, together with the weakening economy, means that the next president will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals. The answer is both yes and no. With less money flowing into the Treasury, it is likely that some useful programs or policies that I’ve proposed on the campaign trail may need to be delayed. …

But there are certain investments in our future that we cannot delay precisely because our economy is in turmoil. You can always put off giving your house a new paint job or renovating your kitchen, but when your roof is crumbling or your heater goes, you realize that these are long-term investments you need to make right away.

The same is true of our economy. … We cannot wait to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our roads and our bridges and investing in the renewable sources of energy that will stop us from sending $700 billion a year to tyrants and dictators for their oil.

Obama went on to promise that regardless of the budgetary situation, infrastructure, energy, and job creation will be his top priorities (including investing in “clean coal” and figuring out how to “safely harness nuclear power”):

To create new jobs, I’ll invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure — our roads, schools, and bridges. We’ll rebuild our outdated electricity grid and build new broadband lines to connect America. And I’ll create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy. We’ll tap our natural-gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here the United States of America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels — an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.