Obama Hosts Cyber Town Hall

So we’re going to spend — this is another area where we devote a considerable amount of money in our budget. And I just want to remind you of this, because we’re having this budget debate in Washington right now. And again, everybody says — a lot of the critics out there are saying, how is it that you’re going to be spending all this money? We’ve got to worry about the deficit, et cetera.

I just want to remind you that the money that we are spending on education, on health care, and on energy — if you added up all that increased money that we’re spending, it still is not what’s driving our long-term deficits. What’s driving it is Medicare, Medicaid, a structural gap that we have because of the Bush tax cuts over the last several years that left us spending a lot more than we were saving.

And it’s going to take us a while to dig our way out of that problem. But the way to dig our way out of that problem is not to shortchange investments in our people. A lot of — I’ll bet there are a bunch of families here who are making some tough choices right now, and who are scrimping a little bit and saving.

Now, somebody could make the same argument to you that folks are making to us with respect to the budget, which is, you can’t afford to be sending your kids to college right now. That’s fiscally irresponsible. You’re taking out debt for your kids to get an education. It’s better for you to just put them to work right now at a fast-food place, and they’ll be bringing in a little bit of income. And maybe later they can go to college.

Well, most of us don’t make that decision, because we understand that making the investment now will lead to greater opportunity, greater economic advancement later. Well, the same thing is true in our economy. We can’t shortchange the investments that will allow us to grow in the future.

We’re going to have to impose discipline and eliminate programs that don’t work, and we’re doing that. We’re cutting this budget by $2 trillion. And we’re cutting the deficit in half by the end of my first term.

But what we can’t shortchange are those things that are going to allow us to grow long term. I don’t want us to constrict and reduce our ambitions, and set our sights lower for our kids and the next generation, because we weren’t willing to make those investments now. That’s not how America works. (Applause.)

All right. So now — the folks here have been very patient, so all of you who are watching this live-streaming online, we’re actually going to have some live stuff instead of some virtual stuff. We’re going to ask — get some questions or comments from the audience. And I’m going to go boy, girl, boy, girl — (laughter) — to avoid anybody being mad at me. We’ll start right there, yes. And we’ve got some microphones so everybody can hear you.

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