May 2, 2011
Late Sunday night, President Obama addressed the nation to announce that the United States has killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON OSAMA BIN LADEN
11:35 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.
Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.
So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.
Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.
Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.
And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
March 1, 2009
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, February 28th, 2009
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.
February 21, 2009
WEEKLY ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
February 21, 2009
THE PRESIDENT: 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.
February 15, 2009
Remarks by President Obama at the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration
February 12th, 2009
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. Pease, be seated. Thank you very much. Madam Speaker, Leader Reid, members of Congress, dear friends, former colleagues, it is a great honor to be here — a place where Lincoln served, was inaugurated, and where the nation he saved bid him a last farewell. As we mark the bicentennial of our 16th President’s birth, I cannot claim to know as much about his life and works as many who are also speaking today, but I can say that I feel a special gratitude to this singular figure who in so many ways made my own story possible — and in so many ways made America’s story possible.
It is fitting that we are holding this celebration here at the Capitol, for the life of this building is bound ever so closely to the times of this immortal President. Built by artisans and craftsmen, but also immigrants and slaves — it was here, in the rotunda, that Union soldiers received help from a makeshift hospital; it was downstairs, in the basement, that they were baked bread to give them strength; and it was in the Senate and House chambers where they slept at night and spent some of their days.
What those soldiers saw when they looked on this building was a very different sight than the one we see today, for it remained unfinished until the end of the war. The laborers who built the dome came to work wondering each day whether that would be their last; whether the metal they were using for its frame would be requisitioned for the war and melted down into bullets. But each day went by without any orders to halt construction, and so they kept on working and kept on building.
When President Lincoln was finally told of all the metal being used here, his response was short and clear: That is as it should be. The American people needed to be reminded, he believed, that even in a time of war, the work would go on; the people’s business would continue; that even when the nation itself was in doubt, its future was being secured; and that on that distant day, when the guns fell silent, a national capitol would stand, with a statue of freedom at its peak, as a symbol of unity in a land still mending its divisions.
It is this sense of unity, this ability to plan for a shared future even at a moment where our nation was torn apart, that I reflect on today. And while there are any number of moments that reveal that particular side of this extraordinary man, Abraham Lincoln — that particular aspect of his leadership — there’s one that I’d like to share with you today.
In the war’s final weeks, aboard Grant’s flagship, The River Queen, President Lincoln was asked what was to be done with the rebel armies once General Lee surrendered. With victory at hand, Lincoln could have sought revenge. He could have forced the South to pay a steep price for their rebellion. But despite all the bloodshed and all the misery that each side had exacted upon the other, and despite his absolute certainty in the rightness of the cause of ending slavery, no Confederate soldier was to be punished, Lincoln ordered. They were to be treated, as he put it, “liberally all round.” What Lincoln wanted was for Confederate troops to go back home and return to work on their farms and in their shops. He was even willing, he said, to “let them have their horses to plow and ¼ their guns to shoot crows with.”
That was the only way, Lincoln knew, to repair the rifts that had torn this country apart. It was the only way to begin the healing that our nation so desperately needed. What Lincoln never forgot, not even in the midst of civil war, was that despite all that divides us — north and south, black and white — we were, at heart, one nation and one people, sharing a bond as Americans that could bend but would not break.
And so even as we meet here today, in a moment when we are far less divided than in Lincoln’s day, but when we are once again debating the critical issues of our time — and debating them sometimes fiercely — let us remember that we are doing so as servants of the same flag, as representatives of the same people, and as stakeholders in a common future. That is the most fitting tribute we can pay — the most lasting monument we can build — to that most remarkable of men, Abraham Lincoln. Thank you.
February 14, 2009
WEEKLY ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
February 14, 2009
This week, I spent some time with Americans across the country who are hurting because of our economic crisis. People closing the businesses they scrimped and saved to start. Families losing the homes that were their stake in the American Dream. Folks who have given up trying to get ahead, and given in to the stark reality of just trying to get by.
They’ve been looking to those they sent to Washington for some hope at a time when they need it most.
This morning, I’m pleased to say that after a lively debate full of healthy difference of opinion, we have delivered real and tangible progress for the American people.
Congress has passed my economic recovery plan – an ambitious plan at a time we badly need it. It will save or create more than 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, ignite spending by business and consumers alike, and lay a new foundation for our lasting economic growth and prosperity.
This is a major milestone on our road to recovery, and I want to thank the Members of Congress who came together in common purpose to make it happen. Because they did, I will sign this legislation into law shortly, and we’ll begin making the immediate investments necessary to put people back to work doing the work America needs done.
The work of modernizing our health care system, saving billions of dollars and countless lives; and upgrading classrooms, libraries, and labs in our children’s schools across America.
The work of building wind turbines and solar panels and the smart grid necessary to transport the clean energy they create; and laying broadband internet lines to connect rural homes, schools, and businesses to the information superhighway.
The work of repairing our crumbling roads and bridges, and our dangerously deficient dams and levees.
And we’ll help folks who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own by providing the unemployment benefits they need and protecting the health care they count on.
Now, some fear we won’t be able to effectively implement a plan of this size and scope, and I understand their skepticism. Washington hasn’t set a very good example in recent years. And with so much on the line, it’s time to begin doing things differently.
That’s why our goal must be to spend these precious dollars with unprecedented accountability, responsibility, and transparency. I’ve tasked my cabinet and staff to set up the kind of management, oversight, and disclosure that will help ensure that, and I will challenge state and local governments to do the same.
Once the plan is put into action, a new website – Recovery DOT gov – will allow any American to watch where the money goes and weigh in with comments and questions – and I encourage every American to do so. Ultimately, this is your money, and you deserve to know where it’s going and how it’s spent.
This historic step won’t be the end of what we do to turn our economy around, but the beginning. The problems that led us into this crisis are deep and widespread. Our response must be equal to the task.
For our plan to succeed, we must stabilize, repair, and reform our banking system, and get credit flowing again to families and businesses.
We must write and enforce new rules of the road, to stop unscrupulous speculators from undermining our economy ever again.
We must stem the spread of foreclosures and do everything we can to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes.
And in the weeks ahead, I will submit a proposal for the federal budget that will begin to restore the discipline these challenging times demand. Our debt has doubled over the past eight years, and we’ve inherited a trillion-dollar deficit – which we must add to in the short term in order to jumpstart our sick economy. But our long-term economic growth demands that we tame our burgeoning federal deficit; that we invest in the things we need, and dispense with the things we don’t. This is a challenging agenda, but one we can and will achieve.
This morning, I’m reminded of words President Kennedy spoke in another time of uncertainty. “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”
America, we will prove equal to this task. It will take time, and it will take effort, but working together, we will turn this crisis into opportunity and emerge from our painful present into a brighter future. After a week spent with the fundamentally decent men and women of this nation, I have never been more certain of that. Thank you.
February 7, 2009
WEEKLY ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
February 7, 2009
Yesterday began with some devastating news with regard to our economic crisis. But I’m pleased to say it ended on a more positive note.
In the morning, we received yet another round of alarming employment figures – the worst in more than 30 years. Another 600,000 jobs were lost in January. We’ve now lost more than 3.6 million jobs since this recession began.
But by the evening, Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate and responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands.
In the midst of our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people were hoping that Congress would begin to confront the great challenges we face. That was, after all, what last November’s election was all about.
Legislation of such magnitude deserves the scrutiny that it’s received over the last month, and it will receive more in the days to come. But we can’t afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary. The scale and scope of this plan is right. And the time for action is now.
Because if we don’t move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold.
Let’s be clear: We can’t expect relief from the tired old theories that, in eight short years, doubled the national debt, threw our economy into a tailspin, and led us into this mess in the first place. We can’t rely on a losing formula that offers only tax cuts as the answer to all our problems while ignoring our fundamental economic challenges – the crushing cost of health care or the inadequate state of so many schools; our addiction to foreign oil or our crumbling roads, bridges, and levees.
The American people know that our challenges are great. They don’t expect Democratic solutions or Republican solutions – they expect American solutions.
From the beginning, this recovery plan has had at its core a simple idea: Let’s put Americans to work doing the work America needs done. It will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, all across the country – 16,000 in Maine, nearly 80,000 in Indiana – almost all of them in the private sector, and all of them jobs that help us recover today, and prosper tomorrow.
Jobs that upgrade classrooms and laboratories in 10,000 schools nationwide – at least 485 in Florida alone – and train an army of teachers in math and science.
Jobs that modernize our health care system, not only saving us billions of dollars, but countless lives.
Jobs that construct a smart electric grid, connect every corner of the country to the information superhighway, double our capacity to generate renewable energy, and grow the economy of tomorrow.
Jobs that rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and levees and dams, so that the tragedies of New Orleans and Minneapolis never happen again.
It includes immediate tax relief for our struggling middle class in places like Ohio, where 4.5 million workers will receive a tax cut of up to $1,000. It protects health insurance and provides unemployment insurance for those who’ve lost their jobs. And it helps our states and communities avoid painful tax hikes or layoffs for our teachers, nurses, and first responders.
That’s what is at stake with this plan: putting Americans back to work, creating transformative economic change, and making a down payment on the American Dream that serves our children and our children’s children for generations to come.
Americans across this country are struggling, and they are watching to see if we’re equal to the task before us. Let’s show them that we are. And let’s do whatever it takes to keep the promise of America alive in our time.
February 1, 2009
WEEKLY ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
January 31, 2009
This morning I’d like to talk about some good news and some bad news as we confront our economic crisis.
The bad news is well known to Americans across our country as we continue to struggle through unprecedented economic turmoil. Yesterday we learned that our economy shrank by nearly 4 percent from October through December. That decline was the largest in over a quarter century, and it underscores the seriousness of the economic crisis that my administration found when we took office.
Already the slowdown has cost us tens of thousands of jobs in January alone. And the picture is likely to get worse before it gets better.
Make no mistake, these are not just numbers. Behind every statistic there’s a story. Many Americans have seen their lives turned upside down. Families have been forced to make painful choices. Parents are struggling to pay the bills. Patients can’t afford care. Students can’t keep pace with tuition. And workers don’t know whether their retirement will be dignified and secure.
The good news is that we are moving forward with a sense of urgency equal to the challenge. This week the House passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next few years. It puts a tax cut into the pockets of working families, and places a down payment on America’s future by investing in energy independence and education, affordable health care, and American infrastructure.
Now this recovery plan moves to the Senate. I will continue working with both parties so that the strongest possible bill gets to my desk. With the stakes so high we simply cannot afford the same old gridlock and partisan posturing in Washington. It’s time to move in a new direction.
Americans know that our economic recovery will take years — not months. But they will have little patience if we allow politics to get in the way of action, and our economy continues to slide. That’s why I am calling on the Senate to pass this plan, so that we can put people back to work and begin the long, hard work of lifting our economy out of this crisis. No one bill, no matter how comprehensive, can cure what ails our economy. So just as we jumpstart job creation, we must also ensure that markets are stable, credit is flowing, and families can stay in their homes.
Last year Congress passed a plan to rescue the financial system. While the package helped avoid a financial collapse, many are frustrated by the results — and rightfully so. Too often taxpayer dollars have been spent without transparency or accountability. Banks have been extended a hand, but homeowners, students, and small businesses that need loans have been left to fend on their own.
And adding to this outrage, we learned this week that even as they petitioned for taxpayer assistance, Wall Street firms shamefully paid out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008. While I’m committed to doing what it takes to maintain the flow of credit, the American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed. The road to recovery demands that we all act responsibly, from Main Street to Washington to Wall Street.
Soon my Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, will announce a new strategy for reviving our financial system that gets credit flowing to businesses and families. We’ll help lower mortgage costs and extend loans to small businesses so they can create jobs. We’ll ensure that CEOs are not draining funds that should be advancing our recovery. And we will insist on unprecedented transparency, rigorous oversight, and clear accountability — so taxpayers know how their money is being spent and whether it is achieving results.
Rarely in history has our country faced economic problems as devastating as this crisis. But the strength of the American people compels us to come together. The road ahead will be long, but I promise you that every day that I go to work in the Oval Office I carry with me your stories, and my administration is dedicated to alleviating your struggles and advancing your dreams. You are calling for action. Now is the time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities.
January 25, 2009
Below, watch the video of President Obama’s first weekly address and Recovery Plan speech. If you prefer to read it, the text is also below. To read a more extensive version of the plan, download the pdf – Reinvestment & Recovery Plan Metrics.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, January 24th, 2009
We begin this year and this Administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action. Just this week, we saw more people file for unemployment than at any time in the last twenty-six years, and experts agree that if nothing is done, the unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. And we could lose a generation of potential, as more young Americans are forced to forgo college dreams or the chance to train for the jobs of the future.
In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.
That is why I have proposed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth. I am pleased to say that both parties in Congress are already hard at work on this plan, and I hope to sign it into law in less than a month.
It’s a plan that will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years, and one that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment – the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there’s so much work to be done. That’s why this is not just a short-term program to boost employment. It’s one that will invest in our most important priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.
Today I’d like to talk specifically about the progress we expect to make in each of these areas.
To accelerate the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, and biofuels over the next three years. We’ll begin to build a new electricity grid that lay down more than 3,000 miles of transmission lines to convey this new energy from coast to coast. We’ll save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75% of federal buildings more energy efficient, and save the average working family $350 on their energy bills by weatherizing 2.5 million homes.
To lower health care cost, cut medical errors, and improve care, we’ll computerize the nation’s health record in five years, saving billions of dollars in health care costs and countless lives. And we’ll protect health insurance for more than 8 million Americans who are in danger of losing their coverage during this economic downturn.
To ensure our children can compete and succeed in this new economy, we’ll renovate and modernize 10,000 schools, building state-of-the-art classrooms, libraries, and labs to improve learning for over five million students. We’ll invest more in Pell Grants to make college affordable for seven million more students, provide a $2,500 college tax credit to four million students, and triple the number of fellowships in science to help spur the next generation of innovation.
Finally, we will rebuild and retrofit America to meet the demands of the 21st century. That means repairing and modernizing thousands of miles of America’s roadways and providing new mass transit options for millions of Americans. It means protecting America by securing 90 major ports and creating a better communications network for local law enforcement and public safety officials in the event of an emergency. And it means expanding broadband access to millions of Americans, so business can compete on a level-playing field, wherever they’re located.
I know that some are skeptical about the size and scale of this recovery plan. I understand that skepticism, which is why this recovery plan must and will include unprecedented measures that will allow the American people to hold my Administration accountable for these results. We won’t just throw money at our problems – we’ll invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public, and informed by independent experts whenever possible. We’ll launch an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government, and every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov.
No one policy or program will solve the challenges we face right now, nor will this crisis recede in a short period of time. But if we act now and act boldly; if we start rewarding hard work and responsibility once more; if we act as citizens and not partisans and begin again the work of remaking America, then I have faith that we will emerge from this trying time even stronger and more prosperous than we were before. Thanks for listening.