When it comes to the middle-class tax cut, we already had that in the recovery. We know that that’s going to be in place for at least the next two years. We had identified a specific way to pay for it. If Congress has better ideas in terms of how to pay for it, then we’re happy to listen.
When it comes to cap and trade, the broader principle is that we’ve got to move to a new energy era, and that means moving away from polluting energy sources towards cleaner energy sources. That is a potential engine for economic growth. I think cap and trade is the best way, from my perspective, to achieve some of those gains because what it does is it starts pricing the pollution that’s being sent into the atmosphere.
The way it’s structured has to take into account regional differences; it has to protect consumers from huge spikes in electricity prices. So there are a lot of technical issues that are going to have to be sorted through. Our point in the budget is let’s get started now, we can’t wait. And my expectation is that the energy committees or other relevant committees in both the House and the Senate are going to be moving forward a strong energy package. It will be authorized, we’ll get it done and I will sign it.
Q So is that a “yes,” sir? You’re willing to sign a budget that doesn’t have those two provisions?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I — what I said was I haven’t seen yet what provisions are in there. The bottom line is, is that I want to see health care, energy, education and serious efforts to reduce our budget deficit. And there are going to be a lot of details that are still being worked out, but I have confidence that we’re going to be able to get a budget done that’s reflective of what needs to happen in order to make sure that America grows.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. At both of your town hall meetings in California last week you said, “I didn’t run for President to pass on our problems to the next generation.” But under your budget the debt will increase $7 trillion over the next 10 years; the Congressional Budget Office says $9.3 trillion. And today on Capitol Hill some Republicans called your budget, with all the spending on health care, education and the environment, the most irresponsible budget in American history.
Isn’t that kind of debt exactly what you were talking about when you said “passing on our problems to the next generation”?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I suspect that some of those Republican critics have a short memory, because as I recall I’m inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit, annual deficit, from them. That would be point number one.
Point number two: Both under our estimates and under the CBO estimates, both the most conservative estimates out there, we drive down the deficit over the first five years of our budget. The deficit is cut in half. And folks aren’t disputing that.