Previous Page 5 of 12 Next

Continued: Transcript of Obama news conference

  • Article by: , Associated Press
  • Last update: February 9, 2009 - 8:48 PM

There are others who recognize that we've got to do a significant recovery package, but they're concerned about the mix of what's in there. And if they're sincere about it, then I'm happy to have conversations about this tax cut versus that — that tax cut or this infrastructure project versus that infrastructure project.

But what I've — what I've been concerned about is some of the language that's been used suggesting that this is full of pork and this is wasteful government spending, so on and so forth.

First of all, when I hear that from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, then, you know, I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history. I inherited the deficit that we have right now and the economic crisis that we have right now.

Number two is that, although there are some programs in there that I think are good policy, some of them aren't job-creators. I think it's perfectly legitimate to say that those programs should be out of this particular recovery package and we can deal with them later.

But when they start characterizing this as pork, without acknowledging that there are no earmarks in this package — something, again, that was pretty rare over the last eight years — then you get a feeling that maybe we're playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.

So I'm going to keep on engaging. I hope that, as we get the Senate and the House bills together, that everybody is willing to give a little bit. I suspect that the package that emerges is not going to be 100 percent of what I want.

But my bottom line is, are we creating 4 million jobs? And are we laying the foundation for long-term economic growth?

This is another concern that I've had in some of the arguments that I'm hearing. When people suggest that, What a waste of money to make federal buildings more energy-efficient. Why would that be a waste of money?

We're creating jobs immediately by retrofitting these buildings or weatherizing 2 million Americans' homes, as was called for in the package, so that right there creates economic stimulus.

And we are saving taxpayers when it comes to federal buildings potentially $2 billion. In the case of homeowners, they will see more money in their pockets. And we're reducing our dependence on foreign oil in the Middle East. Why wouldn't we want to make that kind of investment?

Now, maybe philosophically you just don't think that the federal government should be involved in energy policy. I happen to disagree with that; I think that's the reason why we find ourselves importing more foreign oil now than we did back in the early '70s when OPEC first formed.

And we can have a respectful debate about whether or not we should be involved in energy policymaking, but don't suggest that somehow that's wasteful spending. That's exactly what this country needs.

The same applies when it comes to information technologies in health care. We know that health care is crippling businesses and making us less competitive, as well as breaking the banks of families all across America. And part of the reason is, we've got the most inefficient health care system imaginable.

We're still using paper. We're still filing things in triplicate. Nurses can't read the prescriptions that doctors — that doctors have written out. Why wouldn't we want to put that on — put that on an electronic medical record that will reduce error rates, reduce our long-term costs of health care, and create jobs right now?

Education, yet another example. The suggestion is, why should the federal government be involved in school construction?

Well, I visited a school down in South Carolina that was built in the 1850s. Kids are still learning in that school, as best they can, when the — when the railroad — when the — it's right next to a railroad. And when the train runs by, the whole building shakes and the teacher has to stop teaching for a while. The — the auditorium is completely broken down; they can't use it.

So why wouldn't we want to build state-of-the-art schools with science labs that are teaching our kids the skills they need for the 21st century, that will enhance our economy, and, by the way, right now, will create jobs?

So, you know, we — we can differ on some of the particulars, but, again, the question I think the American people are asking is, do you just want government to do nothing, or do you want it to do something? If you want it to do something, then we can have a conversation. But doing nothing, that's not an option from my perspective.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters