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POTUS speech – something missing

 
President Obama struck many of the right chords on energy last night in his address to Congress.  Priorities like "laying thousands of miles of power lines" are crucial and a roughly five-fold increase in clean energy R&D (to "$15 billion a year") is vital -- but several key notes didn't stand out.  Themes like "energy security" and "oil dependence" and "balance of payments" needed to be emphasized, but weren't.  After a campaign in which both candidates seemed to get it about the linkages between our dependence on imported oil and energy insecurity on the one hand; and the exportation of US dollars for oil leading to a gross imbalance of payments leading to economic insecurity on the other, it was a little disappointing not to hear that last night. We know President Obama and his team have a deep understanding of the link between energy security, national security, and macroeconomic health.  But we also know that Members of Congerss, and the people they represent, have short memories.  The President needs to lead on energy security.  He needs to remind Americans, especially now while we're enjoying the fruits of $40 a barrel oil, that  economy-wrecking oil price volatility is not a thing of the past.  We can't rely on a strategy of recessionary demand destruction to keep vital energy costs down.  Important policy choices and investments must be made today to reduce the oil intensity of the US economy. As the President and Senator McCain both said during the campaign, we need to transition from an imported-oil-dependent energy economy to a self-sustaining robust system based on a diversity of largely domestic fuels.  And we need to quit handing over hard-earned dollars to folks who wish us ill.  The phrase "global war on terror" may now be out of fashion.  But whatever one calls it, we're still funding both sides; we're just getting a temporary discount.  We must not lose sight of that fact as Congress and the Administration begin serious deliberations on energy policy.