Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
January 16, 2010
Over the past two years, more than seven million Americans have lost their jobs. Countless businesses have been forced to shut their doors. Few families have escaped the pain of this terrible recession. Rarely does a day go by that I do not hear from folks who are hurting. That is why we have pushed so hard to rebuild this economy.
But even as we work tirelessly to dig our way out of this hole, it is important that we address what led us into such a deep mess in the first place. Much of the turmoil of this recession was caused by the irresponsibility of banks and financial institutions on Wall Street. These financial firms took huge, reckless risks in pursuit of short-term profits and soaring bonuses. They gambled with borrowed money, without enough oversight or regard for the consequences. And when they lost, they lost big. Little more than a year ago, many of the largest and oldest financial firms in the world teetered on the brink of collapse, overwhelmed by the consequences of their irresponsible decisions. This financial crisis nearly pulled the entire economy into a second Great Depression.
As a result, the American people – struggling in their own right – were placed in a deeply unfair and unsatisfying position. Even though these financial firms were largely facing a crisis of their own creation, their failure could have led to an even greater calamity for the country. That is why the previous administration started a program – the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP – to provide these financial institutions with funds to survive the turmoil they helped unleash. It was a distasteful but necessary thing to do.
Many originally feared that most of the $700 billion in TARP money would be lost. But when my administration came into office, we put in place rigorous rules for accountability and transparency, which cut the cost of the bailout dramatically. We have now recovered most of the money we provided to the banks. That’s good news, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not good enough. We want the taxpayers’ money back, and we’re going to collect every dime.
“Hello, this is Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware.
“As 30,000 additional American service-members continue to move into Afghanistan under the counterinsurgency strategy outlined by General McChrystal, Americans are reminded about our important role in this vulnerable region.
“The additional troops will bring our military presence there to 100,000 Americans and 47,000 NATO partners. While this increase is essential to our efforts in the region, also key is ensuring that our men and women in the field have the equipment and support they need to succeed.
“Last week I traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan with a Congressional Delegation to see firsthand the progress we have made in reversing the momentum of the Taliban and the many remaining challenges we face.
“There is a strong professionalism and commitment demonstrated by our men and women in uniform, as well as by those in our civilian institutions who serve on the front lines.
“Particularly since the surge in Afghanistan began, we have seen progress toward helping establish a country that can govern itself, defend its borders, and be an important ally in fighting terrorism.