We measure our recovery by how many small businesses can keep their doors open, and how many families can afford the promise of a college education. And that’s why the third step that we took was to restart the flow of credit to families and businesses by generating car loans and student loans and small business loans. It’s a program that Secretary Geithner worked with the Federal Reserve to design and it has already generated more lending in the last week than we saw in the previous four months combined.
And ultimately, we’re going to measure our success based on whether we can create an economy that builds a lasting foundation for our shared economic growth so that we don’t face another crisis like this 10 years from now, or 20 years from now.
You see, what’s happened over the last six months is the result of an economy built on years of reckless speculation and overinflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards and overleveraged banks. And that approach doesn’t create lasting wealth; it creates the illusion of prosperity, and it’s endangered us all.
That’s why the most critical part of our strategy is to build our economy on a stronger foundation, and that’s what the budget I submitted to Congress is designed to do. It’s more than just a budget; it’s a blueprint for our economic future. It’s a vision of what the Democratic Party stands for — that boldly and wisely makes the choices we as a nation have been putting off for too long.
Because we know that we’ve got to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we’re going to invest heavily in renewable sources of energy that will lead to new jobs and new industries, and put America at the forefront of a clean energy future.
Because we know that countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, we’re going to invest in childhood education; in high standards and accountability for our schools; we’re going to reward teachers for success; and we’re going to invest in affordable college educations for anybody who wants to go. It’s time to demand excellence from our schools so we can finally prepare our workforce for a 21st century economy, and inspire our children to come out of school saying they want to be scientists and engineers and doctors and teachers.
And because we know that the crushing cost of health care is punishing families and businesses, and bankrupting the federal and state governments, we’re going to invest in reforms that bring down those costs while improving care and guaranteeing Americans their choice of doctors and hospitals. The choice isn’t between health care reform and fiscal discipline; we have to invest in health reform in order to achieve fiscal discipline. (Applause.)
And because we’ve inherited a historic fiscal mess, this budget makes the tough choices necessary to cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term — even under the most pessimistic estimates. We’ve proposed $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade? We’ll continue making these tough choices in the months and years ahead as our economy recovers.