In his fourth press conference since taking office in January, president Obama focused on establishing sustainable clean energy initiatives and implementing a comprehensive healthcare reform, slowly turning his attention from the financial and economic crises that have consumed his presidency to date. The topics addressed in Tuesday afternoon’s press conferences signal that the administration may finally be moving out of “damage control mode” and beginning to focus more on fulfilling its campaign promises.
Speaking on Iran, an “appalled and outraged” Obama acknowledged that there are “significant questions about the legitimacy of the election” and questioned the behavior of the Iranian government in the aftermath of the presidential elections. But Obama stated that “it is not up to us” to determine the results of the election, indicating that he will leave the handling of the situation largely in the hands of Iranians. Obama refuted reports the U.S. and other Western states had played a role in instigating rallies in Tehran as “patently false.” His words seemed to reaffirm widely-held beliefs that the U.S. will keep its distance in the current crisis, afraid of repeating past mistakes in the region.
On the proposed healthcare reforms making their way through Congress, Obama described the status quo as “unsustainable and unacceptable,” calling the current state of the country’s healthcare system a drag on the economy and a significant source of the national deficit. Touting some of the early successes in this initiative, Obama seems resolved to push forward with comprehensive reforms that have foiled previous presidencies. With criticisms from numerous senators in mind, Obama expressed his unwillingness to support a costly bill that would essentially force the government to continue to print money. Obama pledged that any potential healthcare reforms must and will be paid for, with funding for any such bills coming “through savings and efficiencies.” While the proposed reforms are in very early stages, cost estimates have been in excess of $1 trillion, indicating that the administration is going to have its work cut out for it to round up sufficient funds.
Speaking on clean energy initiatives, Obama pledged to introduce incentives that would make “clean energy the profitable kind of energy.” While alternative energy startups have been abundant in recent years, few firms have managed to scratch out profitability, doomed by failure to achieve a critical mass and timely drops in oil prices that have lessened outrage over prices of traditional energy sources. Obama’s belief that the nation able to create a clean energy economy will lead the global economy indicates that clean energy developments will likely be in the spotlight going forward. Obama specifically mentioned wind and solar energy, which could be a good sign for investors in ETFs focusing on these sectors, including FAN and TAN, as well as broader clean energy funds, such as ICLN.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.