During a speech delivered on the campus of George Washington University on April 13, the president repeatedly pointed to the fundamental unfairness of trying to rebuild the economy on the backs of the poor. He noted that congressional Republicans and potential presidential candidates have embraced the “worthy goal” of reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over the next ten years and to addressing the ballooning costs of Medicare and Medicaid; but their plan to do so would prevent the nation from making the kinds of investments in education, infrastructure and other areas that he believes are the keys to preserving the nation’s economic well-being and global competitiveness.
“A 70% cut to clean energy. A 25% cut in education. A 30% cut in transportation. Cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. That’s what they’re proposing,” Obama said. “These aren’t the kind of cuts you make when you’re trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren’t the kind of cuts that Republicans and Democrats on the Fiscal Commission proposed. These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America we believe in. And they paint a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic.”
Obama said that he was offering a “more balanced approach” that would build on the spending reductions in the continuing resolution that he signed into law last week that will save $750 billion over 12 years. It includes some painful choices, he warned, but doesn’t sacrifice “the core investments we need to grow and create jobs” in such areas as medical research, clean energy technology, infrastructure and education and job training. He also expressed a determination to preserve the Affordable Care Act because it reduces the deficit by reducing the cost of health care itself, and vehement opposition to the GOP’s proposals that would turn Medicare into a voucher program and block grant Medicaid.
“Let me be absolutely clear. I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs,” the president said. “I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.”