Obama on the Record: News Conference on Healthcare Reform

First of all, let’s understand that when I came in we had a $1.3 trillion deficit — annual deficit that we had already inherited. We had to immediately move forward with a stimulus package because the American economy had lost trillions of dollars of wealth; consumers had lost through their 401(k)s, through their home values, you name it, they had lost trillions of dollars. That all just went away. That was the day I was sworn in, it was already happening. And we had 700,000 jobs that were being lost.

So we felt it was very important to put in place a recovery package that would help stabilize the economy. Then we had to pass a budget, by law. And our budget had a 10-year projection — and I just want everybody to be clear about this: If we had done nothing, if you had the same old budget as opposed to the changes we made in our budget, you’d have a $9.3 trillion deficit over the next 10 years. Because of the changes we’ve made it’s going to be $7.1 trillion. Now, that’s not good, but it’s $2.2 trillion less than it would have been if we had the same policies in place when we came in.

So the reason I point this out is to say that the debt and the deficit are deep concerns of mine. I am very worried about federal spending. And the steps that we’ve taken so far have reduced federal spending over the next 10 years by $2.2 trillion. It’s not enough. But in order for us to do more, we’re not only going to have to eliminate waste in the system — and by the way, we had a big victory yesterday by eliminating a weapons program, the F-22, that the Pentagon had repeatedly said we didn’t need — so we’re going to have to eliminate waste there, we’re going to have to eliminate no-bid contracts, we’re going to have to do all kinds of reforms in our budgeting — but we’re also going to have to change health care. Otherwise we can’t close that $7.1 trillion gap in the way that the American people want it to change.

So to all — everybody who’s out there who has been ginned up about this idea that the Obama administration wants to spend and spend and spend, the fact of the matter is, is that we inherited a enormous deficit, enormous long-term debt projections. We have not reduced it as much as we need to and as I’d like to, but health care reform is not going to add to that deficit; it’s designed to lower it. That’s part of the reason why it’s so important to do, and to do now.

Chip Reid.

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