Obama: The only thing we have to fear is a sustained depression; Update: McConnell response added

He actually used the D-word, albeit in reference to what earlier generations had to face. Which is fitting: Aside from the passage about green energy, this is pure FDR, right down to the nod at “fear itself.” Full transcript at Politico:

Now, the very fact that this crisis is largely of our own making means that it is not beyond our ability to solve. Our problems are rooted in past mistakes, not our capacity for future greatness. It will take time, perhaps many years, but we can rebuild that lost trust and confidence. We can restore opportunity and prosperity…

It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe. Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy – where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending; where an inability to lend and borrow stops growth and leads to even less credit…

I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan. Our government has already spent a good deal of money, but we haven’t yet seen that translate into more jobs or higher incomes or renewed confidence in our economy. That’s why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan won’t just throw money at our problems – we’ll invest in what works. The true test of the policies we’ll pursue won’t be whether they’re Democratic or Republican ideas, but whether they create jobs, grow our economy, and put the American Dream within reach of the American people…

It will not come easy or happen overnight, and it is altogether likely that things may get worse before they get better. But that is all the more reason for Congress to act without delay. I know the scale of this plan is unprecedented, but so is the severity of our situation. We have already tried the wait-and-see approach to our problems, and it is the same approach that helped lead us to this day of reckoning.

There’s a cameo near the end by the Ghost of Bailouts Future, too.

Why the hedging about how long it’ll take? Because, like the rest of America’s economic braintrust, he’s not sure it’ll work at all. The furthest he’ll go is to say he’s “confident” it’ll “save or create” three million jobs; if you’re wondering what that means in real terms, just pick the number of jobs that you expect will be lost by 2010 and add three million to that. That’s how many we’ll be told would have been lost if this hadn’t passed. In fact, it’s his own pessimism that explains why he’s been so conciliatory towards the Blue Dogs and the GOP: It’s not about “changing the tone,” it’s about knowing that the ship’s going down and wanting Republicans on deck with him so that they don’t capitalize in the midterms. For reasons that escape me, the GOP’s evidently going to play along even though they’re powerless to stop the stimulus anyway. Maybe McConnell realized that opposing it is now semi-officially unpatriotic.

Pelosi wants it on The One’s desk by February 16 with a return to Hopenchange by summer 2010, according to economic genius/subprime hero Barney Frank. If you think they’re not going to move fast on this, just wait until tomorrow’s jobs report. Good god.

Update: Here’s McConnell doing some hedging of his own. He doesn’t want any “long-term” spending, but happily concedes the need for a short-term stimulus. Which, I take it, is his way of keeping his options open on whether to back the bill by characterizing it appropriately.