The New New Deal

In this morning's laptop chat, Barack Obama outlines, in broad strokes, the new New Deal everyone's speculating about.[youtube] after the jump.Obama says: "We'll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead."This is great to hear, but in some respects, the timing could be better. We're having to invest huge sums building wind and solar energy generators before the technology has matured. Standard, earth-bound windmills might end up being a sub-optimal way of harvesting wind power. Similarly, it's unclear whether or not solar panels should be built on mechanical arms so they can follow the sun.Big technological advances may be right around the corner and it would be a shame if we end up spending billions on specific alternative energy technologies that turn out the be the alt-energy equivalent of Betamax.That said, there's clearly no time to delay. And this would be less of an issue if we had supported R&D in this stuff over the last eight years.