Obama on the Record: State of the Economy - Page 12 of 14

Obama on the Record: State of the Economy

That’s what we’re doing now. Of course, I realize that for some, this isn’t enough. I know there’s a criticism out there that my administration has been spending with reckless abandon, pushing a liberal social agenda while mortgaging our children’s future. You’ve heard the argument.

Well, let me make three points. First, as I said earlier, the worst thing that we could do in a recession this severe is to try to cut government spending at the same time as families and businesses around the world are cutting back on their spending. So as serious as our deficit and debt problems are — and they are very serious — major efforts to deal with them have to focus on the medium and long-term budget picture, not on the short-term. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Second, in tackling the deficit issue, we simply cannot sacrifice the long-term investments that we so desperately need to generate long-term prosperity. That’s the argument that some critics have made: Well, you’re proposing health care reform, you shouldn’t be doing that; you’re proposing education investments, you shouldn’t be doing that, that adds to the deficit.

Look, just as a cash-strapped family may cut back on all kinds of luxuries, but will still insist on spending money to get their children through college, will refuse to have their kids drop out of college and go to work in some fast-food place, even though that might bring in some income in the short-term, because they’re thinking about the long term — so we as a country have to make current choices with an eye for the future. (Applause.)

If we don’t invest now in renewable energy, if we don’t invest now in a skilled workforce, if we don’t invest now in a more affordable health care system, this economy simply won’t grow at the pace it needs to in two or five or 10 years down the road. If we don’t lay this new foundation now, it won’t be long before we’re right back where we are today. And I can assure you that chronically slow growth will not help our long-term budget situation. That’s the second point.

Third point, the problem with our deficit and debt is not new. It has been building dramatically over the past eight years, largely because big tax cuts combined with increased spending on two wars and the increased costs of government health care programs have pushed it ever upwards. This structural gap in our budget, between the amount of money that’s coming in and the amount of money that’s going out, will only get worse as the baby boomers age, and will in fact lead us down an unsustainable path.