February 28th, 2009
10:19 AM ET
11 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. Ilona

    This is the right time for American to choose the right way in solving the so many problems. NOW OR NEVER!!

    February 28, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Benard

    This is what I am talking about. This is true change we can believe in. Mr. President, I am behind you a 100%. It is time to stop the walfare to the richest people in the country and invest these savings in rebuilding America. May God guide you and replenish your strength as you face all these special interest group. You have my support.

    February 28, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. Maggie from Virginia

    Let's do this! Yes We Can!

    The People are behind you Mr. President. Finally, a President for the People.

    February 28, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. connie

    He took the voters seriously and I am thankful he is carrying out his vision. It is going to be hard, but it is needed!

    February 28, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. Doug

    This is an incredible speech, talk about audacity. I joined this movement because he said lobbyists controlled washington and he would CHANGE this, he didn't, his are still working. Congress is the Status Quo, it still is. On the campaign trail, he said no trillion dollar budgets and look what he has done on this issue. His new promise to cut them only after he raises them. The third problem is his recycled Clinton administration, he was bringing new people to washington for the government changes, yes I know, a complete fraud and I HOPEDfor this too. The country is collapsing and all we get are the bills.

    February 28, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. Judy

    Thank you Mr. President! Finally, we have a People's President!

    February 28, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Capsaicin

    Media on a typical president after coming into office: 'President X is not keeping his campaign promises! Deceiver!'

    Media on Obama: 'The President is actually trying to keep his campaign promises! But, But, he's naive, he's upsetting the status quo! Waah!'

    Keep it up President Obama. Regular Americans like the sound of this change being enacted!

    February 28, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Ernie in LA

    I hope all of you Obama worshipers enjoy the "Change" that he will bring to your lives. He was right about "Change", but it's not what you had in mind.

    February 28, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. ready

    I agree. the president need to stand up for working people who have been neglected for a long time by republicans.

    February 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Dawn

    President Obama I do hope you know exactly what you are doing, we needs JOBS and money to go along with that!

    February 28, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. JohnT

    Excellent address. The President has thrown down the gauntlet. I am confident he realizes that taking on the special interests will put him in conflict with many members of the Senate and House of both parties who owe their political careers to these special interests and their lobbying firms. A good first step to showing that he means business would be to cut all those earmarks and other porky projects from the Omnibus spending bill the House is gushing over. And, while he's at it, cut a few other wasteful spending items from that bill. That would truly serve notice, far more than any number of speeches.

    February 28, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. David

    You know lets look at this budget in June after congress put their Cuts in. One thing I like is the health care like it or not our businesses need it so they can compete with Europe and Asia whos Gov. pay health care.

    February 28, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. ja3p0

    change doesn't necessarily mean 'change for the better'. wow, this guy's ego never quits! his fans are even more annoying.lol

    February 28, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Tom

    Sounds more like pork barrel spending as usual. So much for actual change.

    February 28, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. The Voice

    I agree, this is a whole new forefront for American politics, the old guard continues to stifle new ideas and changes. I believe Obama can do it. He has the political capital on his side and that is the American people, and they voted for him to make "changes."

    We actually have a president who is working on his promises unlike the guy who was there the last eight years.

    February 28, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Jay

    Get 'em, Barry!

    February 28, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. js007

    Obama is a combination of Lincoln and Roosevelt. The American people will finally find out what it is like to have a capable and charismatic president who works for THEM, and not only the rich and the corporations. Hallelujah!

    February 28, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. Dumas McGee

    i wanted your budget to represent HOPE

    February 28, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. surafel

    It's well said Mr. President. First, we can solve our multi-side problem, and then we can come back to cut our deficit.
    Hit the road Sir!
    Surafel from Boston, Ma

    February 28, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Bill, LA





    February 28, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Jim

    "President Obama said the budget he presented to Congress this week represents 'the change the American people voted for in November.' ”

    Or, more correctly the change that 53% of the American people voted for. It seems so common that politicians see a "mandate" regardless of how slim their majority. The President needs to keep in mind that he is also responsible to the 47% of the nation that did not vote for him.

    February 28, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. thomas

    Why do we need a stimulus package to hire more cops? The government is already prosecuting more people than the prisons can safely hold. One in every hundred people in the US is now behind bars; one in every nine young adult black males is locked up. Does anyone remember the last super power to incarcerate minority, indigent, under-educated and sick men in such large numbers? With the largest prison population in the world, the US is in no position to lecture China on human rights abuses.

    February 28, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. Linda

    censorship at CNN.

    not accepting comments...tried numerous times and canot figure any reason unless you have blocks on words like donors, contributors etc

    February 28, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. Danny in Chicago

    Take it to them Mr. President! Let them know that their time is over!

    Oh my gosh......this is CHANGE

    What are you going to say now republicans? A 'change' candidate actually CHANGING things! Wow....even your buddy Reagon didnt do this much. Oh yeah, and it's only February.

    This is a REAL president. I know it's a shocker, but America rises again!

    February 28, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. Jeffry A.

    You mean lack of pocket "change" for my kids and grandkids. Debt is the new slavery and we as Americans need to be free from it completely. Tell your congressperson today that you are against this before it's too late.

    February 28, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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