their counterparts in places like China. That is why we have proposed investments in childhood education programs that work; in high standards and accountability for our schools; in rewards for teachers who succeed; and in affordable college education for anyone who wants to go. It is time to demand excellence from our schools so that we can finally prepare our workforce for a 21st century economy.
Third, we need a budget that makes a serious investment in health care reform — reform that will bring down costs, ensure quality, and guarantee people their choice of doctors and hospitals. Right now, there are millions of Americans who are just one illness or medical emergency away from bankruptcy. There are businesses that have been forced to close their doors or ship jobs overseas because they can’t afford insurance. Medicare costs are consuming our federal budget. Medicaid is overwhelming our state budgets. So to those who say we have to choose between health care reform and fiscal discipline, I say that making investments now that will dramatically lower health care costs for everyone won’t add to our budget deficit in the long-term — it is one of the best ways to reduce it.
Finally, this budget must reduce that deficit even further. With the fiscal mess we’ve inherited and the cost of this financial crisis, I’ve proposed a budget that cuts our deficit in half by the end of my first term. That’s why we are scouring every corner of the budget and have proposed $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. In total, our budget would bring discretionary spending for domestic programs as a share of the economy to its lowest level in nearly half a century. And we will continue making these tough choices in the months and years ahead so that as our economy recovers, we do what we must to bring this deficit down.
I will be discussing each of these principles next week, as Congress takes up the important work of debating this budget. I realize there are those who say these plans are too ambitious to enact. To that I say that the challenges we face are too large to ignore. I didn’t come here to pass on our problems to the next President or the next generation — I came here to solve them.
The American people sent us here to get things done, and at this moment of great challenge, they are watching and waiting for us to lead. Let’s show them that we are equal to the task before us, and let’s pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity.
(Source: White House)