President to throw a few elbows in Pittsburgh

PRESIDENT TO THROW A FEW ELBOWS IN PITTSBURGH…. When it comes to President Obama’s speeches, there tend to be two general tones when it comes to partisanship. The first is the one Obama uses when giving speeches at Democratic fundraisers and events for candidates, and it’s a tone that can be sharp and scathing — in a rally-the-troops kind of way.

The second is the more sober presidential tone, used in less political settings, where an above-the-fray Obama downplays the fighting spirit and takes far fewer subtle verbal shots at his detractors.

As the election season draws closer, and Republican rhetoric gets more hysterical, it’s interesting to see the first tone become more common outside of campaign-related events. Today, for example, the president will speak about the economy at Carnegie Mellon University, and will throw a few elbows.

Striking a partisan tone, President Barack Obama said Wednesday he is working to rebuild the economy without much help from Republicans, saying they have mostly “sat on the sidelines and shouted from the bleachers.”

The White House released excerpts of Obama’s speech while he was en route to a speech at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. In his remarks, the president aggressively sought to cast Republicans as a party that fought him on tax cuts for small businesses, tax credits for college tuition, new spending on clean energy and more. […]

“We already know where their ideas led us,” Obama said of Republicans. “And now we have a choice as a nation. We can return to the failed economic policies of the past, or we can keep building a stronger future.”

According to the advance excerpts, the president specifically noted Republican opposition to regulatory safeguards and oversight, which is more than a little relevant given the crisis in the Gulf. The GOP, Obama will say, “basically offers two answers to every problem we face: more tax breaks for the wealthy and fewer rules for corporations.”

“Fortunately,” the president will add, “we don’t have to look back too many years to see how it turns out. For much of the last 10 years, we tried it their way. They gave tax cuts that weren’t paid for to millionaires who didn’t need them. They gutted regulations, and put industry insiders in charge of industry oversight. They shortchanged investments in clean energy and education; in research and technology. And despite all their current moralizing about the need to curb spending, this is the same crowd who took the record $237 billion surplus that President Clinton left them and turned it into a record $1.3 trillion deficit.”

As for the near future, Obama also will make it clear he’s not giving up on the energy/climate bill pending in the Senate.

“The catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf right now may prove to be a result of human error – or corporations taking dangerous short-cuts that compromised safety. But we have to acknowledge that there are inherent risks to drilling four miles beneath the surface of the Earth — risks that are bound to increase the harder oil extraction becomes. Just like we have to acknowledge that an America run solely on fossil fuels should not be the vision we have for our children and grandchildren.

“…The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future. That means continuing our unprecedented effort to make everything from our homes and businesses to our cars and trucks more energy efficient. It means tapping into our natural gas reserves, and moving ahead with our plan to expand our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants. And it means rolling back billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development.

“But the only way the transition to clean energy will succeed is if the private sector is fully invested in this future — if capital comes off the sidelines and the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs is unleashed. And the only way to do that is by finally putting a price on carbon pollution.

“…The House of Representatives has already passed a comprehensive energy and climate bill, and there is currently a plan in the Senate – a plan that was developed with ideas from Democrats and Republicans – that would achieve the same goals. The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months. I will make the case for a clean energy future wherever I can, and I will work with anyone from either party to get this done. But we will get this done. The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century. We will not move back. America will move forward.”

The speech hasn’t started yet, so we’ll see how it’s delivered, but the remarks as written seem to reflect some of that campaign fighting spirit. It’s a message that has the added benefit of being true.