February 28th, 2009
10:19 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama: My budget represents change

Barack Obama presented his budget summary on Thursday.
Barack Obama presented his budget summary on Thursday.

(CNN) – President Obama said the budget he presented to Congress this week represents “the change the American people voted for in November.”

In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama described promises he made during the campaign – such as bringing down the cost of health care – and sought to explain how his budget would make those promises reality.

The president said his budget will cut taxes for most Americans, invest in clean energy and education, and halve the deficit by the end of his first term.

“I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington,” the president said.

Full text of the address after the jump

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama

Weekly Address

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Washington, DC

Two years ago, we set out on a journey to change the way that Washington works.

We sought a government that served not the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few, but the middle-class Americans I met every day in every community along the campaign trail – responsible men and women who are working harder than ever, worrying about their jobs, and struggling to raise their families. In so many town halls and backyards, they spoke of their hopes for a government that finally confronts the challenges that their families face every day; a government that treats their tax dollars as responsibly as they treat their own hard-earned paychecks.

That is the change I promised as a candidate for president. It is the change the American people voted for in November. And it is the change represented by the budget I sent to Congress this week.

During the campaign, I promised a fair and balanced tax code that would cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, roll back the tax breaks for those making over $250,000 a year, and end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas. This budget does that.

I promised an economy run on clean, renewable energy that will create new American jobs, new American industries, and free us from the dangerous grip of foreign oil. This budget puts us on that path, through a market-based cap on carbon pollution that will make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy; through investments in wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient American cars and American trucks.

I promised to bring down the crushing cost of health care – a cost that bankrupts one American every thirty seconds, forces small businesses to close their doors, and saddles our government with more debt. This budget keeps that promise, with a historic commitment to reform that will lead to lower costs and quality, affordable health care for every American.

I promised an education system that will prepare every American to compete, so Americans can win in a global economy. This budget will help us meet that goal, with new incentives for teacher performance and pathways for advancement; new tax credits that will make college more affordable for all who want to go; and new support to ensure that those who do go finish their degree.

This budget also reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession. Given this reality, we’ll have to be more vigilant than ever in eliminating the programs we don’t need in order to make room for the investments we do need. I promised to do this by going through the federal budget page by page, and line by line. That is a process we have already begun, and I am pleased to say that we’ve already identified two trillion dollars worth of deficit-reductions over the next decade. We’ve also restored a sense of honesty and transparency to our budget, which is why this one accounts for spending that was hidden or left out under the old rules.

I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

So am I.

The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget starts to make, and that is the change I’ll be fighting for in the weeks ahead – change that will grow our economy, expand our middle-class, and keep the American Dream alive for all those men and women who have believed in this journey from the day it began.

Thanks for listening.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. cph9680

    What exactly is Mr. Obama's definition of "change"? This looks more of the same spend, spend, spend to me.

    February 28, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. Tom

    To Manhandler -

    The budget with 9000 earmarks is NOT Obama's budget.

    That's the budget presented by the House and Congress.

    The earmarks are 60% Democratic and 40% Republicans.

    Gotta love the way Boehner and Cantor and McConnell all have earmarks after trying to say that the Stimulus Plan was 'porkulus'.

    February 28, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Mc Cain calls it generational theft. I call it -The Odesity of Hope.
    A stimulus package plus budget increases in some places is what Obama calls change? London's great train robbery come no where.

    February 28, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. E. Elliott

    Er DNC, we have them – under Bush they created secret prisons in eastern Europe and dishonored the memory of every American that ever sacrificed for their country by using torture. This proposal by our honestly elected President terrifies the criminals that spent the Bush years drainging the nations resources into their our wallets. This is a 20 year process, to recover from the Republican machine. Get that set straight in your small minds children. No one currently able to vote is ever likely going to seee the Country's debt back where it was in the good old days, like the 1 trillion that Carter left or even where that debt was when Al Gore was elected. THe worriers astound me. Like they expect the magic wand of tax cuts to do something when it has been tried for the last 8 years and with deregulation plus Bush's war of aggression in Iraq got us to the breaking point. This is no game folks. The other side refused to lead, they can now follow or simply get out of the way, because this country's people are back.

    February 28, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. Alicia

    Thank you, Mr. President!!!! One single mother posted about the $65 extra a month. She stated, "To some $65 is nothing, to me it is a huge help. Walk in my shoes."

    FINALLY a President who is taking action for the American people by handling issues such as health care, eductation and infrastructure, to name a few.

    Disregard the 'sour grapes' Repug comments. I am sure by now the President knows they did have a plan That would be to keep taking care of the rich folk and themselves.

    Thank you, Mr. President!!!!!!

    February 28, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. arithmetic is liberal

    I bet not a single one of you screaming "PORK!" and "Porkulus" has ANY idea what spending pork actually is.

    Like your ignorance of socialism, you took an idea you barely understand and started screaming it at the top of your lungs.

    Idiots.

    February 28, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. Mike Dallas

    Thank you President Obama for beginning the change you promised!

    The greatest gauge of success, is the fact that the more the repubs scream "tax breaks", the better job your doing!

    February 28, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. D

    Reality is, WE haven't inherited a crisis and a trillion dollar deficit... we accomplished this ourselves. And as a member of the Democrat controlled senate for two years, WE includes Obama... who blocked the regulation of Fannie and Freddie via filibuster.

    Instead of accepting the consequences of the choices we've made, pulling together and making responsible choices.... we're robbing future generations. Why? We're victims, we're entitled, we're good people and we deserve better!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sick.

    February 28, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Tariq

    It is simple and Republicans just don't get it.........

    Over 60% of Americans voted for Obama and his policies. 70% agree and support the way he has been leading since Jan 20th.

    If he follows through with plans and promises, he makes all his voters and supports happy. Up to 70% of the country will be happy :)!

    The remaining 30% can vote for Jindal, Palin, Limbaugh, or Joe the Plumber in 2012 and lose again

    February 28, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. karen

    Thank God Obama is in the White House! The American people finally have a true democratic leader instead of a puppet for the miliatary-industrial complex that we have suffered for most of the past 30 years!

    February 28, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. Peg

    Thank you Mr. President,

    You’ve given me so much hope with your Saturday speech. I’m glad you’re gearing up to fight the mighty horde of lobbyists, special interests, major media, Republicans and even a lot of the Republican voting Democrats we still have in the Congress.

    Stay the Course. Don’t turn back. Don’t back down. We’re counting on you.

    February 28, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Niques

    Way to go for the American pple

    March 1, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Darren D.

    Thank you Coach "O", U are leading us strong!

    March 1, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. survivor

    Great speech Mr. President I voted for you to try and do what you said. – the far right keep thinking they won the election – No they didn't and they have been obstructing and crying ever since along with their supporters – oh well

    March 1, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
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