Obama on the Record: News Conference on the Economy

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President Barack Obama answers a question during his news conference. (Source: Getty Images)

The budget I submitted to Congress will build our economic recovery on a stronger foundation, so that we don’t face another crisis like this 10 or 20 years from now. We invest in the renewable sources of energy that will lead to new jobs, new businesses, and less dependence on foreign oil. We invest in our schools and our teachers so that our children have the skills they need to compete with any workers in the world. We invest in reform that will bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses and our government. And in this budget, we have — we have to make the tough choices necessary to cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term — even under the most pessimistic estimates.

At the end of the day, the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is not with a budget that continues the very same policies that have led to a narrow prosperity and massive debt. It’s with a budget that leads to broad economic growth by moving from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest.

And that’s why [sic] clean energy jobs and businesses will do all across America. That’s what a highly skilled workforce can do all across America. That’s what an efficient health care system that controls costs and entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid will do. That’s why this budget is inseparable from this recovery — because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity.

The road to that prosperity is still long, and we will hit our share of bumps and setbacks before it ends. But we must remember that we can get there if we travel that road as one nation — as one people. You know, there was a lot of outrage and finger-pointing last week, and much of it is understandable. I’m as angry as anybody about those bonuses that went to some of the very same individuals who brought our financial system to its knees — partly because it’s yet another symptom of the culture that led us to this point.

But one of the most important lessons to learn from this crisis is that our economy only works if we recognize that we’re all in this together — that we all have responsibilities to each other and to our country. Bankers and executives on Wall Street need to realize that enriching themselves on the taxpayers’ dime is inexcusable; that the days of outsized rewards and reckless speculation that puts us all at risk have to be over.

At the same time, the rest of us can’t afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit. That drive is what has always fueled our prosperity, and it is what will ultimately get these banks lending and our economy moving once more.

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