Reactions on the speech see below.
Excerpts of his speech:
While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.
"The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.
We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.
Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.
The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.
In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we have come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America – as a blueprint for our future.
My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.
Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.
But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.
Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.
In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.
I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.
But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary.
I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ''I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."
I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community – how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. "The tragedy was terrible," said one of the men who helped them rebuild. "But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity."
And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.
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Randi Zuckerberg of Facebook shows the spike in status updates during President Obama's speech.
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On his first foreign trip, President Obama laid the groundwork for expanded cooperation with our nation's top trading partner, Canada.
President Obama's First Foreign Visit Canada (behind the scenes)
Ric takes you behind the scenes as CJAD covers President Obama's first foreign visit. From 7 a.m. to past 7 p.m. Ric and our team of reporters brought the event to you from broadcast locations in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, the foyer of the House of Commons, Ottawa International Airport and the snow covered front lawn of Parliament Hill. Enjoy and join us everyday for more coverage on Montreal's New Talk Leader CJAD 800.
Obama's First Foreign Trip (amateur video)
He was greeted by a crowd of well-wishers on Parliament Hill, some of whom waited for hours outside in the snow to see him arrive. He then met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, they had lunch with senior ministers and advisers, held a press conference together, and announced a green-technology agreement.
Obama concluded his trip with an unannounced visit to Ottawa's Byward Market, where the stunned customers and employees of coffee shops and restaurants dropped what they were doing to come over and say hello. He picked up some souvenirs for his daughters and tried to buy some pastries, but the vendor refused to take his money.
Obama and his gigantic motorcade then left for the airport, where he posed for pictures with employees of the U.S. embassy and their children, and then had a meeting with Canada's opposition leader Michael Ignatieff.
Canadians Overwhelmed by U.S. President Obama's Visit
Thursdays February 19th was President Obama's first visit to Canada, where he was warmly welcomed by the people as well as Prime Minister Steven Harper.
During the visit Obama met with Canada's first black governor general, Michaëlle Jean.
He also stopped by an Ottawa Market to buy Canadian Maple Leaf cookies,
and was reportedly looking for a snow globe for his daughters.
What should President Obama do in Ottawa? Obama in Ottawa, Canada
Canadians tell President Barack Obama about all of the places to go and things to do in Ottawa on his first foreign trip as President of the United States of America.
President Obama announces that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will start having an impact as soon as a few weeks from now, in the form of the quickest and broadest tax cut in history.
SATURDAY, February 21, 2009
WEEKLY ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
"Earlier this week, I signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- the most sweeping economic recovery plan in history. Because of this plan, 3.5 million Americans will now go to work doing the work that America needs done.
I'm grateful to Congress, governors and mayors across the country, and to all of you whose support made this critical step possible.
Because of what we did together, there will now be shovels in the ground, cranes in the air, and workers rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and repairing our faulty levees and dams.
Because of what we did, companies -- large and small -- that produce renewable energy can now apply for loan guarantees and tax credits and find ways to grow, instead of laying people off; and families can lower their energy bills by weatherizing their homes.
Because of what we did, our children can now graduate from 21st century schools and millions more can do what was unaffordable just last week -- and get their college degree.
Because of what we did, lives will be saved and health care costs will be cut with new computerized medical records.
Because of what we did, there will now be police on the beat, firefighters on the job, and teachers preparing lesson plans who thought they would not be able to continue pursuing their critical missions. And ensure that all of this is done with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability, I have assigned a team of managers to make sure that precious tax dollars are invested wisely and well.
Because of what we did, 95 percent of all working families will get a tax cut -- in keeping with a promise I made on the campaign. And I'm pleased to announce that this morning, the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks -- meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month. Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans.
But as important as it was that I was able to sign this plan into law, it is only a first step on the road to economic recovery. And we can't fail to complete the journey. That will require stemming the spread of foreclosures and falling home values, and doing all we can to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, which is exactly what the housing plan I announced last week will help us do.
It will require stabilizing and repairing our banking system, and getting credit flowing again to families and businesses. It will require reforming the broken regulatory system that made this crisis possible, and recognizing that it's only by setting and enforcing 21st century rules of the road that we can build a thriving economy.
And it will require doing all we can to get exploding deficits under control as our economy begins to recover. That work begins on Monday, when I will convene a fiscal summit of independent experts and unions, advocacy groups and members of Congress, to discuss how we can cut the trillion-dollar deficit that we've inherited. On Tuesday, I will speak to the nation about our urgent national priorities. And on Thursday, I'll release a budget that's sober in its assessments, honest in its accounting, and lays out in detail my strategy for investing in what we need, cutting what we don't, and restoring fiscal discipline.
No single piece of this broad economic recovery can, by itself, meet the demands that have been placed on us. We can't help people find work or pay their bills unless we unlock credit for families and businesses. We can't solve our housing crisis unless we help people find work so that they can make payments on their homes. We can't produce shared prosperity without firm rules of the road, and we can't generate sustained growth without getting our deficits under control. In short, we cannot successfully address any of our problems without addressing them all. And that is exactly what the strategy we are pursuing is designed to do.
None of this will be easy. The road ahead will be long and full of hazards. But I am confident that we, as a people, have the strength and wisdom to carry out this strategy and overcome this crisis. And if we do, our economy -- and our country -- will be better and stronger for it.
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