of the United States. So please join me in welcoming President Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Please, everybody have a seat. Thank you so much.
It is wonderful to see so many of you — a lot of old friends who I saw on the campaign trail, had a chance to meet all across the country, and I’m glad we’re now gathered together to try to actually get something done.
You know, over the last two years — last two years during the course of this campaign one of the things that I saw was how dedicated each and every one of you are to making sure that your states and your constituencies are well served by state government. And part of my job as President is to ensure that we’re a good partner with you, because you’re where rubber hits the road; you’re where people actually see the benefits of a good education and high-quality health care, transportation, energy plans that actually make sense.
And so the purpose, the goal of this meeting is to ensure that we are all on the same page, because our folks are counting on it. And it’s helpful for me also to talk to you because you guys see things from outside of Washington. And the more I can break out of the bubble, the better off I am.
Over the last two days I’ve been traveling in California, talking with Americans about the challenges they’re facing as a result of this economic crisis. And these are challenges that all of you know very well. You’re on the front lines of this recession. It’s your states that are struggling with shrinking revenues, your budgets are being cut, services that your families depend on in a moment of need are being placed under tremendous strain. And as a former state legislator, I know how difficult your work can be, and how important it is to have a strong partner in Washington. I want you to know I’m committed to being that kind of partner.
And that’s why we’re taking unprecedented steps not just to help your states make it through these difficult times, but to make sure that you come out stronger on the other end, more
prosperous than you were before. That’s the purpose of the budget that I’m submitting to Congress. It’s a budget that makes hard choices about where to save and where to spend. Because of the massive deficit we inherited and the cost of this financial crisis, we are having to go through the books line by line, page by page, so that we can cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term and reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade.
What we will not cut are investments that will lead to real growth and real prosperity over the long term. That’s why our budget makes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform. That’s why it enhances America’s competitiveness by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and