President Barack Obama: Hello, everybody. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Green tie, not bad, huh? Conrad didn’t get the memo. You didn’t, either.
Good morning. With the budget committees hard at work this week, I wanted to meet with Chairman Conrad and Chairman Spratt to talk about the progress they’re making on this budget resolution.
Because these are no ordinary times, I don’t just view this budget document as numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs. I see it as a economic blueprint for our future — a foundation on which to build a recovery that lasts.
Now, this budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. Because of the massive deficit we inherited and the enormous costs of this financial crisis, we have made some tough choices that will cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term and reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade. That will bring discretionary spending for domestic programs as a share of the economy to its lowest level in nearly half a century.
What we will not cut back, however, are those investments that are directly linked to our long-term prosperity. As I said last week, we can’t go back to a bubble economy — an economy based on reckless speculation and spending beyond our means; on bad credit and inflated home prices; and some of the shenanigans that have been taking place on Wall Street. Such activity does not lead to the creation of lasting wealth. It leads to the illusion of prosperity and, as we’re finding out, it hurts us all in the end.
And that’s why this budget makes the investments that will lead to real growth and real prosperity — investments that will make a difference in the lives of this generation and future generations because it makes us more productive.
Because so many Americans are just one illness or medical emergency away from bankruptcy, we have made a historic commitment to health care reform in this budget — reform that will finally lower costs for families, businesses, and state governments; reform that’s not a luxury, but a necessity if we hope to bring down the cost of Medicare and Medicaid so that we can reduce our deficit in the long run. And this is a fight that Kent Conrad and John Spratt have been fighting for a long time. The two gentlemen standing with me today, they’ve been leaders in efforts to get these entitlement programs under control, and they understand that if we don’t solve the problem of health care costs now, we are not going to be able to get a handle on entitlements down the road.
Because we know that the countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, this budget also invests in a complete and competitive education for every American — in early childhood education programs that work;