Remarks of President Barack Obama at the National Conference of State Legislatures
Over the past two days, I have been traveling in California, talking with Americans about the challenges they are facing as a result of this economic crisis. These are challenges that all of you know well. You are on the front lines of this recession. It’s your states that are struggling with shrinking revenues, your budgets that are being cut, and your services that families turn to first in a moment of need. As a former state legislator, I know how difficult your work can be, and how important it is to have a strong partner in Washington. And I want you to know I’m committed to being that kind of partner.
That’s why we are taking unprecedented steps not only to help your states make it through these difficult times, but to make sure you come out on the other side stronger and more prosperous than you were before. That’s the purpose of the budget I am submitting to Congress. It’s a budget that makes hard choices about where to save and where to spend. Because of the massive deficit we inherited and the cost of this financial crisis, we are going through our books line by line so that we can cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term and reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade.
But what we will not cut are investments that will lead to real growth and real prosperity. That’s why our budget makes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform. That’s why it enhances America’s competitiveness by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and building a clean energy economy. And that’s why it makes a down payment on a complete and competitive education for every American child from the cradle up through a career. In short, our budget will strengthen each of our fifty states for generations to come.
That is also the purpose of the Recovery Act I signed into law last month — a plan that will not only help states avoid painful budget cuts, but also make a meaningful difference in the lives of Americans across this country. Because of what we did, there will be teachers in the classroom and police on the beat who otherwise wouldn’t be pursuing their essential missions. Because of what we did, neighborhood health clinics are creating jobs and providing affordable care to those who need it. And because of what we did, 95 percent of hardworking families will receive a tax cut — a tax cut they will see in their paychecks beginning on April 1st. Altogether, we will create or save 3.5 million jobs — 90 percent of which will come in the private sector.
It is the most sweeping recovery plan in our nation’s history, and with a plan of such size comes an obligation to be vigilant with every dime we spend. That will require holding ourselves more accountable. It will require a new