Obama on the Record: News Conference on the Economy

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, it is going to take a whole host of adjustments — and we couldn’t reflect all of those adjustments in this budget. Let me give you an example. There’s been a lot of talk about entitlements and Medicare and Medicaid. The biggest problem we have long term is Medicare and Medicaid, but whatever reforms we initiative on that front — and we’re very serious about working on a bipartisan basis to reduce those deficits, or reduce those costs — you’re not going to see those savings reflected until much later.

And so a budget is a snapshot of what we can get done right now, understanding that eight, 10 years from now we will have had a whole series of new budgets — and we’re going to have to make additional adjustments. And once we get out of this current economic crisis, then it’s going to be absolutely important for us to take another look and say, are we growing as fast as we need to grow? Are there further cuts that we need to make? What other adjustments is it going to take for us to have a sustainable budget level?

But keep in mind, just to give one other example — as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, we are reducing non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since the ’60s — lower than it was under Reagan, lower than it was under Clinton, lower than it was under Bush — or both Bushes.

And so if we’re growing, if we are doing what’s necessary to create new businesses and to expand the economy, and we are making sure that we’re eliminating some of these programs that aren’t working, then over time that gap can close.

But I’m — look, I’m not going to lie to you, it is tough, as I said. That’s why the critics tend to criticize, but they don’t offer an alternative budget. Because even if we were not doing health care, we were not doing energy, we were not doing education, they’d still have a whole bunch of problems in those out-years, according to CBO projections. The only difference is that we will not have invested in what’s necessary to make this economy grow.

Is Lurdes here — from Univision?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Today your administration presented a plan to help curb the violence in Mexico, and also to control any, or prevent any spillover of the violence into the United States. Do you consider the situation now a national security threat? And do you believe that it could require sending national troops to the border? Governor Perry of Texas has said that you still need more troops and more agents. How do you respond to that?

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