And our success will also require controlling spiraling health care costs that are bankrupting families, and crushing businesses, and driving up skyrocketing deficits. At the current course and speed, these health care costs are unsustainable. And that’s why my budget takes a first big step towards comprehensive health care reform that will reduce costs, improve care and ensure that everyone who works has coverage they can afford.
This is what Americans’ success demands and this is what our budget will do. And I’m under no illusions that a better day will come about quickly or easily. It’s going to be hard. But as I said the other night at my press conference, I’m a big believer in the idea of persistence — the idea that when the American people put their mind to something and keep at it, without giving up, without turning back, no obstacle can stand in our way, and no dream is beyond our reach. That’s why we’re here today — because it will take all of us talking with one another, all of us sharing ideas, all of us working together to see our country through this difficult time and bring about that better day.
So I want to thank all of you for this opportunity to talk with you. And now I’d like to bring Jared back up to the stage, and he’s going to open it up for questions. So, Jared, let’s see how this thing works.
DR. BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. President. Our first question comes from Boston, Massachusetts, on the topic of education: “The Founding Fathers believe that there is no difference between a free society and an educated society. Our educational system, however, is woefully inadequate. How do you plan to restore education as a right and core cultural value in America?”
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s a great question, and — let me see if this mic works so that I’m not stuck at this podium. I’m here only because of the education I received. I wasn’t born into wealth, I wasn’t born into fame, but I had parents who cared about education and grandparents who cared about education, and I was lucky enough, through scholarships and sacrifice on the part of my family, to get the best education that America has to offer.
Too many of our children aren’t getting that kind of education. It’s not because their parents don’t believe in the value of education; it’s not because these young people are less talented. It’s because of two reasons: One, in many cases, our schools are under-resourced. There aren’t enough teachers; the teachers aren’t getting enough of the training they need for the classroom; there’s a shortage of supplies. Some of the schools that I visited during the course of traveling around the country just shock the conscience. There are schools that I’ve seen that were built in the 1850s that are still being used but haven’t been upgraded the way they need to.