Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist
Journalist @baltimoresun writer artist runner #amwriting Md Troopers Assoc #20 & Westminster Md Fire Dept Chaplain PIO #partylikeajournalist

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

NPR Belt Tightening Leads To Artistic Expansion

NPR Belt Tightening Leads To Artistic Expansion

February 27, 2009 NPR· Tough times can often be a springboard for creativity. When no one's job is safe, no one's house is secure and no one knows exactly what to do about it, artists get to work — and start pushing boundaries.

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Coming Up:
A visit to a place where the typewriter is alive and clacking, Monday on NPR's
Morning Edition.

20090227 NPR Belt Tightening Leads To Artistic Expansion

Kevin Dayhoff

TimesWatch Tracker for February 27, 2009

TimesWatch Tracker Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Agenda of the New York Times

TimesWatch Tracker: Our Latest Analysis Friday, February 27, 2009

The Liberal Obsession with Income Inequality
Economics columnist David Leonhardt sees Obama's budget plan and U.S. history itself through the distorted liberal prism of income inequality, missing issues of individual freedom and the many benefits transferred to the poor from wealthy taxpayers.

Save the Earth: Recycle Your Urine
Lunchtime reading: Did you know that "Human excrement is rich in nitrogen" and "A 19th-century 'sewage farm' in Pasadena, Calif., was renowned for its tasty walnuts"?

George W. Bush's "Free Market Orthodoxy"?
Was that before or after the massive expansion of Medicare?

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20090227 TimesWatch Tracker for February 27, 2009

Kevin Dayhoff

Kevin and a friendly Florida alligator

Kevin and a friendly Florida alligator

February 26, 2009

Kevin and a friendly Florida alligator, stop to say hi from the Central Florida Everglades.

20090226 Alligatorpics KED (6)
Kevin Dayhoff

A brief, quick observation about David Zurawik’s Baltimore Sun piece: “WBAL TV fires John Sanders over prank.”

A brief, quick observation about David Zurawik’s Baltimore Sun piece: “WBAL-TV fires reporter over prank."

Hat Tip: Duck Duck Goose: WBAL-TV fires blue scrotum reporter over prank 02/26/2009 Wonkette’s version is better than the Sun’s.

And Stan Moore posted it on Inside Charm City on February 24, 2009:

DCRTV John Sanders, a correspondent for Channel 11/WBAL, disappeared from the Baltimore NBC affiliate’s website on Monday after, over the weekend, he’d been IDed as the prankster who edited the words “bright blue scrotum” into Fox Newser John Gibson’s verbal stream, in a Fox News video segment in which Gibson was commenting last week about the new attorney general. TVNewser has more about the original incident. No confirmation from WBAL as to Sanders’ fate at the Hearst station”

However, David Zurawik, with the Baltimore Sun, wrote some great commentary that has been lost in the whole kerfuffle

[ “WBAL-TV fires reporter over prank - John Sanders inserted a graphic phrase in a faked video that ended up on YouTube,” by David Zurawik February 24, 2009]

He introduced the background of the matter first…

WBAL-TV fired a producer-reporter today for altering a video in such a way as to put false and potentially inflammatory words into the mouth of Fox News anchor John Gibson.

The video that was doctored by John Sanders, who covered technology issues and produced promotional videos for Baltimore's NBC affiliate, became a viral sensation last week after the Huffington Post presented it as authentic.

However, what really resonated with me was:

“Beyond the end of Sander's career at WBAL, the video highlights the lack of verification at popular news Web sites such as the Huffington Post. Like many news aggregate sites, the Post does not employ traditional news reporters but relies mainly on contributions from readers, celebrities and columnists. Sanders' dismissal could also be seen as a cautionary tale for those who think that they can post something on the Internet as a prank for the enjoyment of their friends and that it will go no further.”

Want an example? Click here.

Read Mr. Zurawik’s entire piece here: WBAL-TV fires reporter over prank

Related links

Z on TV: WBAL fires reporter after doctored video goes viral
On the Web: Huffington Post reports on doctored John Gibson video

20090224 Sun WBAL TV fires John Sanders over prank,0,2655073.story

Kevin Dayhoff

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama’s Nuclear Leadership Opportunity

Obama’s Nuclear Leadership Opportunity

The Moderate Voice: Obama’s Nuclear Leadership Opportunity by Robin Walker

February 26th, 2009 By Guest Voice
Robin Walker

Truman National Security Project bills itself as “the nation’s only organization that recruits, trains, and positions a new generation of progressives across America to lead on national security.” The following essay (the first in a series for TMV) is from Robin Walker, a Project fellow. As with other “guest voice” posts, this and future contributions from the Truman Project do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TMV editorial board or writers.

By Robin Walker, Truman National Security Project

Of the various challenges President Obama mentioned in his Tuesday evening address to Congress — two wars, a housing crisis, energy, healthcare, education, the deficit, etc. — one challenge got little attention but represents an opportunity for serious progress: nuclear weapons.

By law the President has to produce a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) by the end of 2009. If properly handled, the NPR could improve our security, reduce the deficit, improve the United States’ standing in the world, and increase security in one of the most dangerous regions of the world, South Asia.


The longstanding India-Pakistan rivalry is frequently described as the most likely nuclear war scenario in the modern world. Since both countries demonstrated their nuclear capabilities with tests in 1998, three crises have narrowly averted escalating to the level of nuclear exchanges: the 1999 Kargil war; the 2001-2 military buildup; and the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Anything the United States can do to minimize the risk of these countries using nuclear weapons is clearly in the interest of the United States and the international community.

Read Mr. Walker’s entire commentary here: Obama’s Nuclear Leadership Opportunity by Robin Walker

20090226 Obamas Nuclear Leadership Opportunity by Robin Walker

Twitter: Obama’s Nuclear Leadership Opportunity by Robin Walker February 26th, 2009 #Dayhoff

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In the 1920s, somebody was going to go hungry by Kevin Dayhoff

In the 1920s, somebody was going to go hungry by Kevin Dayhoff

Published February 25, 2009 by Westminster Eagle

On Feb. 4, 1921, the now defunct Union Bridge Pilot newspaper carried an article titled, "Road Building to Begin Soon." The article was published at...

Read the entire column here:
20090225 SDOSM snippet WE Somebody was going to go hungry weked

Kevin Dayhoff

Sharon Hayes-Tucci: Auto DM's Killed The Twitter Star - Or Did It?

Auto DM's Killed The Twitter Star - Or Did It?

February 25, 2009

posted by SharonTucci at
Musings of Sharon Hayes-Tucci, an Internet Entrepeneur

In case you don't use Twitter or are newer to Twitter lingo, auto DM's refers to automatic Direct Messages. Direct messages are one-to-one communications between 2 Twitter users. You cannot send a Direct ...

20090225 Auto DMs Killed The Twitter Star Or Did It?
Kevin Dayhoff

This week in The Tentacle

This week in The Tentacle

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Pulling The Plug
Kevin E. Dayhoff
One of the key talking points of the new Obama Administration is its commitment to lead our nation by maximizing technology. Yet within a few scant weeks, the new kids in the Oval Office have endured their fair share of glitches, error boxes and system crashes.

The Longhouse – Up The River – Part 4
Tom McLaughlin
Kapit, Sarawak – We disembarked from our long, green low boat with a 60hp out board motor. Climbing up the crumbling concrete steps, (we’re always climbing here) and reaching the top, we noticed six fighting cocks staked to sticks. They were far enough apart so they didn’t seem to notice each other. I guess they were waiting for their next battle.

Homeowners Stability Initiative
Michael Kurtianyk
On February 18, President Obama unveiled his administration’s plan to address our continuing housing crisis. President Obama’s $75 billion Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan would help struggling homeowners by providing incentives to lenders, servicers, mortgage holders and borrowers to help modify mortgage loans.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The 2009 Oscars
Roy Meachum
What the audience got Sunday night was the most focused Oscar presentations I can recall. That's said with a straight face, although I suffered through a paean montage of romantic movies and other bits I flatly did not understand.

Random Thoughts
Farrell Keough
Last time we were together, we discussed the plan by the Frederick County Board of Education to continue on its path to build their Taj Mahal in downtown Frederick. Since that time, I have received a copy of a soil analysis on the property. The levels of arsenic and mercury were well beyond acceptable health standards.

Monday, February 23, 2009
Incumbent Dumping
Richard B. Weldon Jr.
Let me perfectly clear: my thinking on the subject of today’s column has evolved over the course of the last 30 years, and was clearly influenced by my experience in the Maryland House of Delegates over the last six years.

On Writing
Steven R. Berryman
Having many writers in the family, both close and distant, I have begun to wonder whether the urge to put pen to paper is an inherited trait, or a learned one.

Friday, February 20, 2009
Haves vs. Have-Nots
Roy Meachum
Does no one now remember that the out-going Bush Administration extracted $700 billion to pour into banks? The Democrats had the numbers to block. They didn't. They recognized the nation was in financial crises. There were questions, of course. There should have been more.

In the Best Tradition of Scouting
Joe Charlebois
For those not familiar with the Boy Scout program, there is a reason that those who participate stay with it and become Eagle Scouts. They tend to go on and lead very successful lives (president, astronaut, corporate CEOs, great fathers and husbands).

Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Future of News
Tony Soltero
When President Barack Obama held his first formal news conference of his young administration, he turned it into a historical moment. No, it wasn't the fact that at long last we have a president capable of speaking in complete sentences and providing nuanced, thoughtful answers to questions.

Through the Porthole…Brightly
Patricia A. Kelly
I’m a veteran now. I’m hardly alone. On our ship, Adventure of the Seas, attendance was 3,600, not counting a crew of approximately 1,800.

PLUCK: The Titanic Show
Roy Meachum
Executive Director Ray Cullom first spotted "Pluck: The Titanic Show" at the annual Edinborough Comedy Festival last summer. The three-"man" show opened at his Bethesda Theatre over the weekend and will hang around until March 7, three Saturdays away.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Repackaged Isn’t Change
Kevin E. Dayhoff
In the end, the economic stimulus legislation signed yesterday by President Barack Obama, only garnered a total of three Republican votes from all of Congress, and, while traveling the yellow brick road on the way to Oz, the legislation lost the vast majority of public support.

Up The River – Part 3
Tom McLaughlin
Kapit, Sarawak – Located atop a bluff on the Rajang River, and just above the first set of rapids and below a major bend in the river, the eco-lodge backs into the beginnings of a tropical rain forest protected area. Dwarfed by high jungle covered hills, it is constructed of deep and darkly stained rain forest timber with an open, airy décor. The dining area, on a veranda, overlooks the river.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Funny Frederick Politics
Roy Meachum
This city holds elections this autumn. At that realization, many registered voters went back to sleep. They are not kept awake by the various and sundry rumors and gossips floating around. Most simply will not show up at polling places.

Reform Indeed; Improvement Missing
Nick Diaz
Millions and billions have been poured into thousands of school systems around the country in the last 20 years; even so, much of it has essentially failed to make a difference in the quality of mathematics education. Programs had become so bogged down by politics and bureaucracy that they have failed to create any significant change.

Monday, February 16, 2009
General Assembly Journal 2009 – Part 6
Richard B. Weldon Jr.
Another whirlwind week in Annapolis. From helicopter trauma transport to expensive steak lobbying dinners, the range of topics spans the important to the ridiculous.

What’s in it for me?
Steven R. Berryman
In my efforts at ever expanding personal open-mindedness, the other morning I went straight for The Washington Post to learn the well-camouflaged details of the final $787 billion dollar spending package, called “The Porkulus” by Rush Limbaugh, and “The Spendulus” by Laura Ingraham.

20090225 This week in The Tentacle


My latest column in The Tentacle Pulling the Plug #Dayhoff

Kevin Dayhoff
E-mail him at:
kevindayhoff AT
His columns appear in The Tentacle,;
The Westminster Eagle /Eldersburg Eagle The Sunday Carroll Eagle - Opinion:
Kevin Dayhoff

Breaking from for Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Breaking from for Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Video: Newsmax.TV Minute: Hillary Warns Israel
While pledging to cut government spending, Obama rattles off a slew of new or expanded government programs sure to add trillions more to the deficit. Dow nosedives again. Secretary Clinton warns Israel about blocking humanitarian aid. The latest boorish boner from the left-wing MSNBC staff.

MSNBC's Matthews Says 'Oh God' Before Jindal Speech

Special: Soy Is In Almost All Your Food, and It’s Killing Your Heart

GOP to Fight Unions’ Card Check and Support Secret Ballots

New Evidence Links Alchohol and Cancer

Special: Prostate Cancer Epidemic, Don't Be a Victim

Japanese Experts Slam Global Warming Theory

Special: Al Gore's 'Convenient Lie' Exposed

Money: Existing Home Sales Plunge

More Links:

Doctor Says CRP Much More Important Than Cholesterol

Terror Chatter High, Make Sure You Get This Radio, Free

Dick Morris' Fleeced -- Get It Autographed, Free Offer

20090225 SDOSM Breaking from Newsmax for Wed Feb 25 2009

Kevin Dayhoff

Being a liberal means never having to say you’re sorry…

Being a liberal means never having to say you’re sorry…

"Paterson also referred to two disparaging skits about his near blindness by NBC's "Saturday Night Live." He noted he hadn't received an apology."

Newsday: Paterson accepts New York Post cartoon apology


February 21, 2009

David A. Paterson on Friday accepted the New York Post apology for what some termed a racist cartoon, but called for a discussion about satire of public officials.

"It might be a time to open up a dialogue on just where that line is, where good clean fun and degradation are," Paterson told reporters in

He was responding to a Post editorial cartoon Wednesday that many saw as portraying
President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. The Rev. Al Sharpton, state senators and other African-American leaders have called for boycotting the newspaper.

Paterson disagreed, calling the Post apology "very honorable ... At this time when tensions are running high, with the economy down and also even the media outlets having to lay off people, it is an act of sensitivity."

Paterson also referred to two disparaging skits about his near blindness by
NBC's "Saturday Night Live." He noted he hadn't received an apology.,0,4082582.story


NAACP wants NY Post editor and cartoonist fired

New York Post Obama-chimp cartoon protested Photos

Protests over NY Post cartoon Video

Celebrities out and about New York

View photos of the day gallery

Photos: Fire trucks and steel beams pulled from the rubble

Photos: Tribute WTC Museum at Ground Zero

Breaking NYC news, culture and entertainment

See local police mugshots

Past mugshot galleries

20090221 SDOSM Newsday Paterson accepts New York Post cartoon apology

Kevin Dayhoff

Yep: The Times Got Pranked By the "Dating a Banker Anonymous" Girls

Times Watch Tracker for February 25, 2009 - Yep: The Times Got Pranked By the "Dating a Banker Anonymous" Girls

TimesWatch Tracker Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Agenda of the New York Times

TimesWatch Tracker: Our Latest Analysis Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yep: The Times Got Pranked By the "Dating a Banker Anonymous" Girls
Newsweek reports that "what the Times described as a 'support group' of about 30 women is actually a full-blown parody...They don't fact check the emails, or the gossip, and the posts are embellished and exaggerated for added laughs. At times, details are plucked from thin air to give the stories a satirical edge."

Gary Locke's "Scandal-Free Resume"?
Columnist Michelle Malkin accuses reporter William Yardley of whitewashing the Clinton-era campaign finance controversies of Gary Locke, Obama's pick for Commerce Secretary.

"The Upside of Paying More Taxes"
Staff writer and columnist David Leonhardt on the civilizing joys of higher tax rates: "Think of it this way: A tax increase isn't so much a barrier to a society becoming richer as it is a result of a society becoming richer."

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20090225 Times Watch Tracker
Kevin Dayhoff

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali, Narique Meneses/Rex Features

Update: February 26, 2009

I originally posted this as a picture of “Salvador Dali and Gala in 1964.” I obviously was not thinking when I originally posted it as I do not believe that it is a picture of Gala. This was corrected February 26, 2009… Kevin Dayhoff

19640000 Salvador Dali
Kevin Dayhoff

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: “Americans Can Do Anything”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: “Americans Can Do Anything”

February 24, 2009

Americans Can Do Anything

“Good evening. I’m Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.

Tonight, we witnessed a great moment in the history of our Republic. In the very chamber where Congress once voted to abolish slavery, our first African-American President stepped forward to address the state of our union. With his speech tonight, the President completed a redemptive journey that took our nation from Independence Hall . to Gettysburg . to the lunch counter . and now, finally, the Oval Office.

Regardless of party, all Americans are moved by the President’s personal story — the son of an American mother and a Kenyan father, who grew up to become leader of the free world. Like the President’s father, my parents came to this country from a distant land. When they arrived in Baton Rouge, my mother was already 4 ½ months pregnant. I was what folks in the insurance industry now call a ‘pre-existing condition.’

To find work, my dad picked up the yellow pages and started calling local businesses. Even after landing a job, he could still not afford to pay for my delivery — so he worked out an installment plan with the doctor. Fortunately for me, he never missed a payment.

As I grew up, my mom and dad taught me the values that attracted them to this country — and they instilled in me an immigrant’s wonder at the greatness of America. As a child, I remember going to the grocery store with my dad. Growing up in India, he had seen extreme poverty. And as we walked through the aisles, looking at the endless variety on the shelves, he would tell me: ‘Bobby, Americans can do anything.’

I still believe that to this day. Americans can do anything. When we pull together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

As the President made clear this evening, we are now in a time of challenge. Many of you listening tonight have lost jobs. Others have seen your college and retirement savings dwindle. Many of you are worried about losing your health care and your homes.

And you are looking to your elected leaders in Washington for solutions.

Republicans are ready to work with the new President to provide those solutions. Here in my state of Louisiana, we don’t care what party you belong to if you have good ideas to make life better for our people. We need more of that attitude from both Democrats and Republicans in our nation’s capital.

All of us want our economy to recover and our nation to prosper. So where we agree, Republicans must be the President’s strongest partners. And where we disagree, Republicans have a responsibility to be candid and offer better ideas for a path forward.

Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us. Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts.
Let me tell you a story.

During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I’d never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: ‘Well, I’m the Sheriff and if you don’t like it you can come and arrest me!’ I asked him: ‘Sheriff, what’s got you so mad?’ He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters.

The boats were all lined up ready to go — when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn’t go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, ‘Sheriff, that’s ridiculous.’ And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: ‘Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!’ Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.

There is a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens.

We are grateful for the support we have received from across the nation for the ongoing recovery efforts. This spirit got Louisiana through the hurricanes — and this spirit will get our nation through the storms we face today.

To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians. The way to lead is by empowering you — the American people. Because we believe that Americans can do anything.

That is why Republicans put forward plans to create jobs by lowering income tax rates for working families, cutting taxes for small businesses, strengthening incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment and hire new workers, and stabilizing home values by creating a new tax credit for home-buyers.

These plans would cost less and create more jobs.

20090224 Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal Americans Can Do Anything

Kevin Dayhoff

Declaraciones del Presidente Barack Obama -- Discurso ante Sesión Conjunta del Congreso

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Declaraciones del Presidente Barack Obama -- Discurso ante Sesión Conjunta del Congreso

Declaraciones del Presidente Barack Obama – Versión Preparada Para Su Emisión
Discurso ante Sesión Conjunta del Congreso
Martes, 24 de febrero, 2009

Señora Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes, Sr. Vicepresidente, miembros del Congreso:

Estoy aquí esta noche no sólo para dirigirme a las distinguidas damas y caballeros en este gran recinto, sino para hablar directa y francamente con los hombres y mujeres que nos trajeron aquí.

Sé que para muchos estadounidenses que nos observan en este momento, el estado de nuestra economía es una inquietud mayor que todas las demás. Y con toda razón. Si no han sido afectados personalmente por esta recesión, probablemente conocen a alguien que ha sido afectado: un amigo, un vecino, un miembro de su familia. No necesitan escuchar otra lista de datos para saber que nuestra economía se encuentra en crisis, porque la viven todos los días. Es la preocupación con la que se despiertan y motivo de desvelo de noche. Es el empleo que pensaron que tendrían hasta jubilarse, pero que ahora han perdido; el negocio con el que soñaron y que ahora pende de un hilo; la carta de aceptación a la universidad que su hijo tuvo que volver a guardar en el sobre. El impacto de esta recesión es real y está por todas partes.

Pero a pesar de que nuestra economía se haya debilitado y nuestra confianza se vea afectada; a pesar de que estamos viviendo en tiempos difíciles e inciertos, esta noche quiero que todo estadounidense sepa lo siguiente:

Reconstruiremos, nos recuperaremos, y Estados Unidos saldrá de esto más fuerte que nunca.

El peso de esta crisis no determinará el destino de esta nación. Las respuestas a nuestros problemas no están fuera de nuestro alcance. Están en nuestros laboratorios y universidades; en nuestros campos y nuestras fábricas; en la imaginación de nuestros empresarios y el orgullo del pueblo más trabajador en la faz de la Tierra. Aún poseemos a manos llenas las cualidades que han hecho de Estados Unidos la mayor fuerza de progreso y prosperidad en la historia de la humanidad. Lo que se requiere ahora es que este país se una, que encaremos audazmente los desafíos que enfrentamos y asumamos la responsabilidad por nuestro futuro una vez más.

Ahora, si somos francos con nosotros mismos, admitiremos que durante demasiado tiempo, no siempre hemos cumplido con estas responsabilidades, ya sea como gobierno o como pueblo. Digo esto no para designar culpables ni mirar hacia atrás, sino porque sólo al comprender cómo llegamos a este momento podremos salir de este aprieto.

El hecho es que nuestra economía no comenzó a deteriorarse de la noche a la mañana. Tampoco se iniciaron todos nuestros problemas cuando el mercado de vivienda colapsó o la bolsa de valores se desplomó. Sabemos desde hace décadas que nuestra supervivencia depende de encontrar nuevas fuentes de energía. Sin embargo, importamos más petróleo ahora que nunca antes. El costo del cuidado de salud devora más y más de nuestros ahorros todos los años, sin embargo continuamos retrasando reformas. Nuestros niños competirán por empleos en una economía mundial para la cual demasiadas de nuestras escuelas no los preparan. Y aunque todos estos desafíos continuaron sin solución, logramos gastar más dinero y acumular más deudas, tanto como personas y como gobierno, que nunca antes.

En otras palabras, hemos vivido una era en la que demasiado a menudo, las ganancias a corto plazo eran apreciadas más que la prosperidad a largo plazo; en la que no miramos más allá del próximo pago, el próximo trimestre o las próximas elecciones. Un superávit se convirtió en excusa para transferir riqueza a los acaudalados en vez de una oportunidad de invertir en nuestro futuro. Se desmanteló la reglamentación a favor de utilidades rápidas y a costa de un mercado saludable. Sabiendo que no estaban a su alcance, las personas compraron casas de bancos y prestamistas que, de cualquier manera, querían colocar esos malos préstamos. Y mientras tanto, se pospusieron debates cruciales y decisiones difíciles hasta otro momento, otro día.

Bueno, ha llegado el día del ajuste de cuentas, y éste es el momento de hacernos cargo de nuestro futuro.

Éste es el momento de actuar de forma audaz y sensata, no sólo para reactivar esta economía, sino para sentar nuevas bases para una prosperidad perdurable. Éste es el momento de impulsar la generación de empleo, reactivar los préstamos e invertir en sectores como el de energía, cuidado de salud y educación, que harán que nuestra economía crezca, incluso a la vez que tomamos las difíciles decisiones de reducir nuestro déficit. Ése es el propósito de mi plan económico, y de eso me gustaría hablarles esta noche.

Es un plan que comienza con el empleo.

Tan pronto asumí el cargo, le pedí a este Congreso que para el Día del Presidente, tuviera listo un plan que volviera a poner a la gente a trabajar y que le pusiera dinero en el bolsillo. No porque creo en aumentar la burocracia. No creo en eso. No porque no me importe la deuda masiva que hemos heredado. Sí me importa. Hice un llamado a la acción porque no hacerlo hubiera significado perder más empleos y hubiera causado más dificultades. De hecho, no actuar habría empeorado nuestro déficit a largo plazo al asegurar poco crecimiento económico durante años. Por eso fue que presioné para actuar rápidamente. Y esta noche, me siento agradecido porque este Congreso hizo su trabajo, y me complace decirles que la Ley para la Recuperación y Reinversión en Estados Unidos ya fue promulgada.

En los próximos dos años, este plan preservará o creará 3.5 millones de empleos. Más de 90% de estos puestos de trabajo estarán en el sector privado: empleos para reconstruir carreteras y puentes, para fabricar turbinas de viento y paneles solares, para tender banda ancha y expandir el sistema de transporte público.

Debido a este plan, hay maestros que ahora pueden conservar sus puestos y educar a nuestros hijos. Los profesionales de la salud pueden seguir cuidando de los enfermos. Esta noche, 57 oficiales de policía pueden seguir patrullando las calles de Mineápolis, porque su departamento estaba a punto de despedirlos, y este plan lo evitó.

Debido a este plan, 95% de las familias trabajadores en Estados Unidos recibirán un recorte tributario… un recorte tributario que verán en sus talones de pago desde el 1º de abril.

Debido a este plan, las familias que tienen dificultades para cubrir los costos de la educación superior recibirán un crédito tributario de $2,500 para los cuatro años de universidad. Y los estadounidenses que han perdido su empleo en esta recesión podrán recibir una extensión en los beneficios por desempleo y cobertura para cuidados de salud que los ayudará a resistir esta tormenta.

Sé que hay algunos en este recinto y otros que nos ven desde sus hogares que no creen que este plan funcione. Y entiendo ese escepticismo. Aquí en Washington, hemos visto lo rápido que las buenas intenciones se vuelven promesas incumplidas y despilfarro. Y un plan a esta escala implica enorme responsabilidad y la necesidad de hacerlo correctamente.

Por eso le pedí al Vicepresidente Biden que encabezara un esfuerzo de supervisión estricta sin precedente, porque a Joe no se le escapa una. Y les he dicho a todos y cada uno de los miembros de mi gabinete, así como a los alcaldes y gobernadores de todo el país, que a mí y al pueblo estadounidense nos tendrán que rendir cuentas por cada dólar que gasten. Y he designado a un Inspector General de comprobada capacidad y dinamismo para identificar todos los casos de despilfarro y fraude. Y hemos creado una nueva página web llamada para que todos los estadounidenses puedan saber cómo y dónde se gasta su dinero.

Por lo tanto, el plan de recuperación que aprobamos es el primer paso para lograr que nuestra economía vuelva a encaminarse. Pero es sólo el primer paso. Porque incluso si no cometemos ningún error al administrar este plan, no habrá una recuperación real a menos que solucionemos la crisis de crédito que ha debilitado seriamente a nuestro sistema financiero.

Y esta noche quiero hablarles simple y sinceramente sobre este tema, porque todo estadounidense debe saber que eso afecta directamente su bienestar y el de su familia. También quiero que sepan que el dinero que han depositado en los bancos de todo el país está a salvo, que su seguro no está en peligro y que pueden confiar en que nuestro sistema financiero continuará funcionando. Esto no debe ser causa de preocupación alguna.

Lo que nos inquieta es que si no reanudamos los préstamos en este país, nuestro plan de recuperación estará destinado a fallar sin siquiera haber empezado.

Vean, el flujo de crédito es lo que le da vida a nuestra economía. La capacidad de conseguir un préstamo determina la posibilidad de financiar todo, desde una casa hasta un auto y los estudios universitarios; es la manera en que las tiendas renuevan su inventario, las granjas compran equipo y las empresas pagan sus planillas.

Pero el crédito ya no fluye como debería. Demasiados préstamos impagos resultantes de la crisis hipotecaria han afectado los balances contables de demasiados bancos. Con tanta deuda y tan poca confianza, ahora estos bancos temen prestar más dinero a familias, empresas y a otros bancos. Cuando no hay préstamos, las familias no pueden comprar casas ni autos. Entonces las empresas se ven forzadas a hacer despidos. Luego nuestra economía sufre aun más, y hay menos crédito disponible.

Por eso, este gobierno está actuando rápida y enérgicamente para romper este ciclo destructivo, restaurar la confianza y reanudar los préstamos.

Lo haremos de varias maneras. En primer lugar, crearemos un nuevo fondo de préstamos que representa el mayor esfuerzo jamás creado a fin de ayudar a proporcionar financiamiento para vehículos, estudios universitarios, préstamos a pequeñas empresas para los consumidores y empresarios que hacen que esta economía funcione.

En segundo lugar, he propuesto un plan de vivienda que ayudará a las familias responsables pero en peligro de una ejecución hipotecaria a reducir sus pagos mensuales y refinanciar sus préstamos hipotecarios. Es un plan que no ayudará a especuladores ni a ese vecino en su misma cuadra que compró una casa totalmente fuera de su alcance, pero sí ayudará a millones de estadounidenses que están teniendo dificultades debido a la devaluación inmobiliaria… estadounidenses que ahora podrán aprovechar tasas de interés más bajas que este plan ya ha ayudado a establecer. De hecho, la familia promedio que refinancie hoy puede ahorrar casi $2000 al año en su hipoteca.

En tercer lugar, actuaremos con toda la fuerza del gobierno federal para asegurar que los principales bancos de los que dependen los estadounidenses tengan suficiente confianza y suficiente dinero para otorgar préstamos incluso en tiempos más difíciles. Y cuando nos enteremos de que uno de los principales bancos tiene serios problemas, les pediremos cuentas a los responsables, los obligaremos a hacer los ajustes necesarios, les proporcionaremos apoyo para sanear sus balances contables y aseguraremos la continuidad de una institución sólida y viable que pueda beneficiar a nuestra gente y a nuestra economía.

Comprendo bien que Wall Street preferiría un enfoque que les diera a los bancos dinero para rescatarlos sin imponerles condiciones, sin pedirle a nadie que rinda cuentas por sus irresponsables decisiones. Pero un enfoque así no resolvería el problema. Y nuestro objetivo es hacer que pronto llegue el día en que volvamos a otorgar préstamos al pueblo estadounidense y a las empresas estadounidenses, lo cual acabará con esta crisis de una vez por todas.

Tengo la intención de pedirles a estos bancos que rindan cuentas de toda la ayuda que reciban, y esta vez, deberán demostrar claramente cómo se usan los dólares de los contribuyentes a fin de generar más préstamos para el contribuyente estadounidense. Esta vez, los directores generales no podrán usar el dinero de los contribuyentes para engrosar sus talones de pago ni comprar costosas cortinas o desaparecer en un avión privado. Eso no volverá a suceder.

Sin embargo, este plan requerirá recursos significativos del gobierno federal, y sí, probablemente más de lo que ya hemos destinado para esto. Pero aunque el costo va a ser alto, les puedo asegurar que el costo de la inacción sería mucho mayor, porque podría tener como consecuencia una economía débil no sólo por meses o años, sino tal vez por una década. Eso sería peor que nuestro déficit, peor para las empresas, peor para el pueblo y peor para la siguiente generación. Y me resisto a permitir que eso pase.

Y comprendo que cuando el gobierno pasado le pidió ayuda al Congreso para que proporcionara ayuda a los bancos en dificultades, tanto los demócratas como los republicanos estaban furiosos por el mal manejo y lo que ocurrió a continuación. Los contribuyentes estadounidenses sintieron lo mismo. Y yo también.

Así que sé lo poco popular que es ayudar a los bancos en este momento, especialmente porque sus malas decisiones causaron, en parte, que todos los estadounidenses se vieran afectados. Les aseguro que lo entiendo.

Pero también sé que en épocas de crisis, no podemos darnos el lujo de gobernar con ira o hacer concesiones a la politiquería del momento. Mi trabajo, nuestro trabajo, es resolver el problema. Nuestro trabajo es gobernar con sentido de responsabilidad. No voy a gastar ni un centavo con el objetivo de recompensar a ejecutivos de Wall Street, pero haré todo lo que sea necesario para ayudar a la pequeña empresa que no puede pagar a sus trabajadores o a la familia que ha ahorrado, pero que todavía no puede conseguir un préstamo hipotecario.

De eso se trata. No se trata de ayudar a los bancos; se trata de ayudar a la gente. Cuando haya crédito disponible nuevamente, las familias jóvenes finalmente podrán comprar una nueva vivienda. Y luego alguna compañía contratará empleados para construirla. Y luego esos trabajadores tendrán dinero para gastar, y si también pueden conseguir un préstamo, tal vez, finalmente, se podrán comprar un auto o abrir su propio negocio. Los inversionistas volverán al mercado y las familias estadounidenses verán que ya tienen fondos suficientes para la jubilación. Y poco a poco, la confianza retornará, y nuestra economía se recuperará.

Así que le pedí a este Congreso que me apoyara para hacer todo lo que fuera necesario. Porque no podemos abandonar a nuestra nación a un destino de recesión continua. Y para asegurar que una crisis de esta magnitud no vuelva a suceder, le he pedido al Congreso que apruebe rápidamente una ley que finalmente reforme nuestro obsoleto sistema regulatorio. Es hora de poner en vigor normas nuevas, estrictas y razonables para que nuestro mercado financiero recompense el dinamismo y la innovación, y que sancione los atajos y los abusos.

El plan para la recuperación y el plan para la estabilidad financiera son los pasos inmediatos que estamos dando para reactivar nuestra economía a corto plazo. Pero la única manera de restaurar plenamente la solidez económica de Estados Unidos es hacer las inversiones a largo plazo que generarán nuevos empleos, estimularán nuevas industrias y promoverán un renovado ímpetu para competir con el resto del mundo. La única manera de que este siglo sea otro siglo de liderazgo para Estados Unidos es que finalmente le hagamos frente al precio que pagamos por nuestra dependencia de petróleo y al alto costo de los cuidados de salud; al hecho de que las escuelas no estén preparando a nuestros hijos y la montaña de deuda que van a heredar. Ésa es nuestra responsabilidad.

En los próximos días, presentaré un presupuesto ante el Congreso. Con demasiada frecuencia, hemos visto estos documentos como simples números en un papel o una lista detallada de programas. Veo este documento de forma diferente. Lo veo como una visión para Estados Unidos: un plan de acción para nuestro futuro.

Mi presupuesto no trata de resolver todo problema ni abordar cada tema. Refleja la dura realidad que hemos heredado: un déficit de un billón de dólares, una crisis financiera y una recesión costosa.

Dada la situación, todos en este recinto –demócratas y republicanos– tendrán que sacrificar algunas prioridades loables para las cuales no hay dinero. Y también me incluyo.

Pero eso no significa que podemos darnos el lujo de ignorar nuestros desafíos a largo plazo. Rechazo el punto de vista que dice que nuestros problemas simplemente se resolverán por sí solos, que el gobierno no tiene función alguna en sentar las bases de nuestra prosperidad común.

Porque la historia dice lo contrario. La historia nos recuerda que en toda ocasión de conmoción y trasformación económica, esta nación ha respondido con medidas audaces y grandes ideas. En plena guerra civil, instalamos vías férreas de costa a costa, las cuales fomentaron el comercio y la industria. De la agitación de la Revolución Industrial salió un sistema de escuelas secundarias públicas que preparó a nuestros ciudadanos para una nueva era. Tras la guerra y depresión, el GI Bill [ley para la educación de los veteranos de la Segunda Guerra Mundial] envió a una generación a la universidad y creó la clase media más numerosa de la historia. Y una lucha difusa por la libertad tuvo como resultado un país de carreteras, un estadounidense en la luna y una explosión de tecnología que sigue transformando a nuestro planeta.

En ninguno de los casos el gobierno sustituyó a la empresa privada; fue un catalizador de la empresa privada. Creó las condiciones para que miles de empresarios y nuevas empresas se adaptaran y prosperaran.

Somos una nación que siempre ha visto oportunidades en medio del peligro y ha logrado sacar provecho y salir airosa de experiencias terribles. Ahora debemos volver a ser esa nación. Es por eso que el presupuesto que estoy presentando, incluso al recortar programas que no necesitamos, invertirá en tres sectores que son absolutamente cruciales para nuestro futuro económico: energía, cuidados de salud y educación.

Comienza con la energía.

Sabemos que el país que aproveche el poder de la energía renovable y no contaminante será el líder del siglo XXI. Sin embargo, es la China la que ha lanzado el mayor esfuerzo en la historia para hacer que su economía sea eficiente en términos energéticos. Nosotros inventamos la tecnología solar, pero estamos rezagados en su producción con respecto a países como Alemania y el Japón. Nuevos vehículos eléctricos híbridos salen de nuestras cadenas de montaje, pero operarán con baterías hechas en Corea.

Pues, no acepto un futuro en el que los empleos y las industrias del futuro se originen al otro lado de nuestras fronteras, y sé que ustedes tampoco. Es hora de que Estados Unidos vuelva a ser líder.

Gracias a nuestro plan para la recuperación, aumentaremos al doble el suministro de energía renovable de esta nación en los próximos tres años. También hemos hecho la mayor inversión en fondos para la investigación de base en la historia de Estados Unidos, una inversión que propiciará no sólo nuevos descubrimientos en el sector de energía, sino avances en la medicina, ciencias y tecnología.

Pronto tenderemos miles de millas de cables eléctricos que podrán llevar nueva energía a ciudades y pueblos en todo el país. Y pondremos a los estadounidenses a trabajar haciendo más eficientes nuestros edificios y casas para que podamos ahorrar miles de millones de dólares en nuestras cuentas de energía.

Pero para transformar realmente nuestra economía, para resguardar nuestra seguridad y salvar a nuestro planeta de los estragos del cambio climático, es necesario que a fin de cuentas hagamos de la energía renovable y no contaminante el tipo lucrativo de energía. Por lo tanto, le pido a este Congreso que me remita legislación que imponga un límite basado en el mercado para la contaminación derivada del carbono y que impulse la producción de más energía renovable en Estados Unidos. Y a fin de apoyar esa innovación, invertiremos 15,000 millones de dólares al año para desarrollar tecnología como la energía eólica y la energía solar; biocombustibles avanzados, carbón no contaminante y más autos y camiones de consumo eficiente de combustible, construidos aquí mismo en Estados Unidos.

En cuanto a nuestro sector automovilístico, todos reconocen que años de malas decisiones y una recesión mundial han llevado a nuestros fabricantes de autos al borde del abismo. No debemos protegerlos de sus propias prácticas malas, ni lo haremos. Pero nos hemos comprometido con el objetivo de un sector automotor reequipado y reinventado que pueda competir y ganar. Millones de empleos dependen de ello. Muchísimas comunidades dependen de ello. Y creo que la nación que inventó el automóvil no puede abandonarlo.

Nada de esto sucederá sin un precio ni será fácil. Pero éste es Estados Unidos. No hacemos lo que es fácil. Hacemos lo que es necesario para hacer que este país avance.

Por esa misma razón, debemos también abordar el agobiante costo del cuidado de salud.

Se trata de un costo que ahora causa una bancarrota en Estados Unidos cada treinta segundos. Para fines de año, podría causar que 1.5 millones de estadounidenses pierdan su casa. En los últimos ocho años, las primas han aumentado cuatro veces más que los salarios. Y en cada uno de esos ocho años, un millón adicional de estadounidenses perdió su seguro médico. Es una de las principales razones por las que las pequeñas empresas cierran sus puertas y las corporaciones mandan empleos al extranjero. Y es uno de los rubros más costosos y de más rápido crecimiento en nuestro presupuesto.

Dado todo esto, ya no podemos darnos el lujo de posponer la reforma del cuidado de salud.

En tan sólo los últimos treinta días, hemos hecho más que en la última década por hacer que avance la causa de la reforma del cuidado de salud. A pocos días del inicio de sesiones, este Congreso aprobó una ley para otorgar y proteger el seguro médico de once millones de niños estadounidenses cuyos padres trabajan a tiempo completo. Nuestro plan para la recuperación invertirá en historias médicas electrónicas y nueva tecnología que disminuirá errores, reducirá los costos, asegurará la confidencialidad y salvará vidas. Lanzará un nuevo esfuerzo por buscar la cura del cáncer, una enfermedad que ha afectado la vida de casi todos los estadounidenses en nuestros tiempos. Y hace la mayor inversión en cuidado preventivo en la historia, porque ésa es una de las mejores maneras de mantener a nuestro pueblo sano y nuestros costos bajo control.

Este presupuesto lleva estas reformas un paso adelante. Incluye un histórico compromiso con la reforma integral del cuidado de salud; una cuota inicial siguiendo el principio de que debemos tener cuidado de salud económico y de calidad para todo estadounidense. Es un compromiso que se paga en parte por medidas eficientes que esperamos desde hace tiempo. Y es un paso que debemos dar si esperamos reducir nuestro déficit en los próximos años.

Ahora, habrá muchas opiniones e ideas diferentes sobre cómo lograr la reforma, y es por eso que estoy congregando a personas de negocios y trabajadores, médicos y proveedores de salud, demócratas y republicanos, para que comiencen a trabajar la próxima semana en este asunto.

No soy un iluso. Sé que no será un proceso fácil. Será difícil. Pero también sé que casi un siglo después de que Teddy Roosevelt propusiera las primeras reformas, el costo de nuestro cuidado de salud ha agobiado nuestra economía y la conciencia de nuestra nación durante demasiado tiempo. Entonces, que no quepa duda alguna: la reforma del cuidado de salud no puede esperar, no debe esperar, ni esperará un año más.

El tercer desafío que debemos abordar es la urgente necesidad de extender la promesa de la educación en Estados Unidos.

En una economía mundial en la que la destreza más valiosa que se puede vender son los conocimientos propios, una buena educación ya no es simplemente una forma de acceder a las oportunidades; es un prerrequisito.

En este momento, dos tercios de las ocupaciones de más rápido crecimiento requieren más que un diploma de secundaria. Sin embargo, poco más de la mitad de nuestros ciudadanos tiene ese nivel de educación. Entre los países industrializados, tenemos una de las más altas tasas de estudiantes que no terminan la escuela secundaria. Y la mitad de los estudiantes que comienzan sus estudios universitarios no los terminan.

Ésta es una receta para el declive económico, porque sabemos que los países que enseñan mejor que nosotros hoy en día nos superarán el día de mañana. Es por eso que será un objetivo de este gobierno asegurar que todo niño tenga acceso a una educación completa y competitiva, desde el día que nazca hasta el día que inicie una carrera.

Ya hemos hecho una inversión histórica en la educación por medio del plan para la recuperación económica. Hemos ampliado considerablemente la educación inicial y continuaremos mejorando su calidad, porque sabemos que el aprendizaje más formativo tiene lugar en esos primeros años de vida. Hemos puesto los estudios universitarios al alcance de casi siete millones de estudiantes adicionales. Y hemos proporcionado los recursos necesarios para evitar dolorosos recortes y despidos de maestros que detendrían el progreso de nuestros niños.

Pero sabemos que nuestras escuelas no sólo necesitan más recursos. Necesitan más reformas. Es por eso que este presupuesto crea nuevos incentivos para el desempeño de los maestros; vías para ascender y recompensas para el éxito. Invertiremos en programas innovadores que ya están ayudando a las escuelas a cumplir con altos estándares y disminuir las diferencias en el rendimiento. Y aumentaremos nuestro compromiso con las escuelas públicas independientes (charter schools).

Es nuestra responsabilidad como legisladores y educadores hacer que este sistema funcione. Pero es la responsabilidad de cada ciudadano participar en él. Y entonces, esta noche, le pido a todo estadounidense que se comprometa por lo menos a un año o más de educación superior o capacitación laboral. Esto puede ser en una institución comunitaria de enseñanza superior o una universidad de cuatro años; capacitación vocacional o pasantía. Pero independientemente de la capacitación, todo estadounidense deberá contar con algo más que el diploma de la secundaria. Y abandonar la escuela secundaria ya no es una opción. No es solamente darse por vencido, es fallarle al país, y este país necesita y valora el talento de todo estadounidense. Es por eso que proporcionaremos la ayuda necesaria para que concluyan sus estudios universitarios y logren un nuevo objetivo: para el 2020, Estados Unidos volverá a tener la más alta tasa mundial de personas con grado universitario.

Sé que el precio de las matrículas es más alto que nunca, por lo que si están dispuestos a ofrecerse de voluntarios en sus vecindarios y hacer aportes a su comunidad o ponerse al servicio de su país, nos aseguraremos de que pueda pagar una educación universitaria. Y para alentar un espíritu renovado de servicio nacional para esta generación y las futuras, le pido a este Congreso que me remita la legislación respaldada por ambos partidos que tiene el nombre del senador Orrin Hatch, como también el de un estadounidense que nunca ha dejado de preguntar qué puede hacer por su país: el senador Edward Kennedy.

Esta política educativa les abrirá las puertas a nuestros hijos. Pero depende de nosotros el asegurarnos de que pasen por ellas. A fin de cuentas, no existe programa ni política que pueda sustituir a una madre o un padre que vaya a las reuniones con los maestros o que ayude con los deberes después de la cena o que apague el televisor, guarde los videojuegos y le lea a sus hijos. Les hablo no sólo como Presidente, sino como padre cuando les digo que la responsabilidad por la educación de nuestros hijos debe comenzar en casa.

Tenemos, por supuesto, otra responsabilidad con nuestros hijos. Y ésa es la responsabilidad de asegurarnos de que no hereden una deuda que no puedan pagar. Con el déficit que nosotros heredamos, el costo de la crisis que enfrentamos y los desafíos a largo plazo que debemos afrontar, nunca ha sido más importante asegurar que a medida que nuestra economía se recupere, hagamos lo necesario para reducir este déficit.

Es un orgullo para mí que aprobáramos el plan para la recuperación sin asignaciones para proyectos particulares (earmarks), y deseo que se apruebe un presupuesto el próximo año que asegure que cada dólar gastado refleje sólo nuestras más importantes prioridades nacionales.

Ayer tuve una cumbre fiscal en la que prometí reducir el déficit a la mitad para fines de mi primer periodo como Presidente. Mi gobierno también comenzó a analizar el presupuesto federal rubro por rubro para eliminar los programas ineficientes y que desperdician dinero. Como se pueden imaginar, éste es un proceso que tomará tiempo. Pero estamos comenzando con las partidas más grandes. Ya hemos identificado ahorros por dos billones de dólares en la próxima década.

En este presupuesto, acabaremos con programas educativos que no funcionan y con pagos directos a agroempresas grandes que no los necesitan. Eliminaremos los contratos otorgados sin licitación que han malgastado miles de millones en Irak, y reformaremos nuestro presupuesto de defensa para que no paguemos por armamento de la época de la Guerra Fría que no usamos. Eliminaremos el despilfarro, fraude y abuso en nuestro programa de Medicare que no mejore la salud de las personas mayores, y devolveremos un sentido de equidad y equilibrio a nuestro código tributario acabando por fin con los recortes tributarios a corporaciones que envían nuestros empleos al extranjero.

Para rescatar a nuestros niños de un futuro con endeudamiento, también acabaremos con los recortes tributarios del 2% más acaudalado entre los estadounidenses. Pero permítanme ser perfectamente claro, porque sé que escucharán las mismas afirmaciones de siempre que dicen que acabar con esos recortes significa un aumento masivo en los impuestos del pueblo estadounidense: si su familia gana menos de $250,000 al año, sus impuestos no aumentarán ni diez centavos. Les repito: ni diez centavos. De hecho, el plan para la recuperación otorga un recorte tributario –correcto, un recorte tributario– para 95% de las familias trabajadoras. Y esos cheques están en camino.

A fin de mantener nuestro bienestar fiscal a largo plazo, también debemos abordar los costos en aumento de Medicare y el Seguro Social. La reforma integral del cuidado de salud es la mejor manera de afianzar el Medicare para el futuro. Y también debemos dar inicio a la conversación sobre maneras de hacer lo mismo con el Seguro Social y a la vez, crear cuentas de ahorro universales y libres de impuestos para todos los estadounidenses.

Finalmente, ya que también padecemos de una falta de confianza, me he comprometido a restaurar un sentido de honradez y responsabilidad en nuestro presupuesto. Es por eso que este presupuesto mira diez años hacia el futuro y da cuenta de gastos que se omitían conforme a las viejas normas, y por primera vez, eso incluye el costo total de luchar en Irak y Afganistán. Durante siete años, la nuestra ha sido una nación en guerra. Dejaremos de esconder su precio.

Estamos examinando detenidamente nuestra política en ambas guerras, y pronto anunciaré un camino a seguir en Irak que deje a Irak en manos de su pueblo y acabe con esta guerra de forma responsable.

Y con nuestros amigos y aliados, dictaremos una nueva estrategia integral para Afganistán y Pakistán a fin de vencer a Al Qaida y combatir el extremismo. Porque no permitiré que los terroristas confabulen contra el pueblo estadounidense desde refugios al otro lado del mundo.

Mientras nos reunimos esta noche, nuestros hombres y mujeres de uniforme hacen guardia en el extranjero y otros más se alistan para su movilización. A todos y cada uno de ellos, y a las familias que sobrellevan la carga silenciosa de su ausencia, los estadounidenses se unen para enviarles un mensaje: respetamos su servicio, nos inspiran sus sacrificios, y cuentan con nuestro apoyo inquebrantable. Para aliviar la carga de nuestras fuerzas armadas, mi presupuesto aumenta el número de soldados e infantes de Marina. Y a fin de cumplir con nuestras sagradas obligaciones para con quienes están en el servicio, aumentaremos su paga y les otorgaremos a nuestros veteranos la expansión del cuidado de salud y los beneficios que se merecen.

Para derrotar al extremismo, debemos también estar alerta y respaldar los valores que nuestras tropas defienden, porque no existe fuerza más poderosa en el mundo que el ejemplo de Estados Unidos. Es por eso que he ordenado que se cierre el centro de detención de la Bahía de Guantánamo, y procuraremos que se lleve ante la justicia, de forma rápida y segura, a los terroristas capturados, porque vivir conforme a nuestros valores no nos hace más débiles; nos da mayor seguridad y nos da mayor fuerza. Y es por eso que puedo pararme aquí esta noche y decir, sin excepciones ni evasivas, que Estados Unidos no tortura.

En nuestras palabras y acciones, estamos mostrándole al mundo que se ha iniciado una nueva era de participación, pues sabemos que Estados Unidos no puede hacerle frente solo a las amenazas de este siglo, pero el mundo no puede afrontarlas sin Estados Unidos. No podemos eludir la mesa de negociación ni ignorar a los enemigos o las fuerzas que podrían causarnos daño. En vez, se nos llama a proseguir con el sentido de confianza y franqueza que exige la seriedad de los tiempos.

Para procurar el progreso hacia una paz segura y perdurable entre Israel y sus vecinos, hemos designado a un enviado para apoyar nuestros esfuerzos. Para hacerle frente a los desafíos del siglo XXI –desde el terrorismo hasta la proliferación nuclear; desde las enfermedades pandémicas hasta las amenazas cibernéticas y la pobreza agobiante– afianzaremos viejas alianzas, forjaremos nuevas y usaremos todos los elementos de nuestro poder nacional.

Y para responder a una crisis económica que es mundial en su alcance, estamos colaborando con los países del G-20 a fin de restaurar la confianza en nuestro sistema financiero, evitar la posibilidad de un aumento en el proteccionismo y estimular la demanda de productos estadounidenses en mercados de todo el mundo; porque el mundo depende de que tengamos una economía sólida, así como nuestra economía depende de la solidez de la internacional.

Ahora que nos encontramos en un momento decisivo de la historia, los ojos de todas las personas en todas las naciones se posan en nosotros una vez más, y nos observan para ver qué hacemos en este momento; aguardan nuestra dirección.

Los que estamos aquí reunidos esta noche hemos sido escogidos para gobernar en tiempos extraordinarios. Es una gran carga, pero también un gran privilegio que se ha confiado a pocas generaciones de estadounidenses; porque en nuestras manos recae la capacidad de influir en nuestro mundo para bien o para mal.

Sé que es fácil perder de vista este hecho, caer en el cinismo y en la duda, dejarnos consumir por lo mezquino y lo trivial.

Pero en mi vida, también he aprendido que la esperanza se encuentra en lugares poco probables; que la inspiración proviene no de quienes son más poderosos o célebres, sino de los sueños y las aspiraciones de los estadounidenses que no tienen nada de comunes y corrientes.

Pienso en Leonard Abess, el presidente de un banco en Miami quien, según se reportó, vendió su parte de su compañía, recibió una bonificación de $60 millones y se la dio a todas las 399 personas que trabajaron para él y a otras 72 que solían hacerlo. No se lo dijo a nadie, pero cuando un diario local lo averiguó, simplemente dijo, ''Conozco a algunas de esas personas desde que tengo 7 años. No me pareció correcto que sólo yo recibiera el dinero".

Pienso en Greensburg, Kansas, un pueblo que fue destruido totalmente por un tornado, pero que está siendo reconstruido por sus residentes, en un ejemplo global de cómo toda una comunidad puede funcionar con energía no contaminante, cómo ésta puede llevar empleos y actividad comercial a un lugar donde alguna vez yacían rumas de ladrillos y escombros. "La tragedia fue terrible", dijo uno de los hombres que ayudó en la reconstrucción. "Pero la gente de acá sabe que también les brindó una oportunidad increíble".

Y pienso en Ty’Sheoma Bethea, la niñita de esa escuela que visité en Dillon, Carolina del Sur, un lugar donde los techos gotean, la pintura se pela de las paredes y tienen que dejar de enseñar seis veces al día porque el tren pasa a toda velocidad cerca de su aula. Le dijeron que su escuela no tiene esperanza, pero el otro día después de clases fue a la biblioteca pública y les escribió una carta a las personas sentadas en este recinto. Incluso le pidió dinero a su director para comprar una estampilla. La carta nos pide ayuda y dice, "Somos simplemente estudiantes tratando de ser abogados, médicos, congresistas como ustedes y algún día, presidentes, para que podamos producir un cambio no sólo en el estado de Carolina del Sur sino también en el mundo. No somos de los que se dan por vencidos".

No somos de los que se dan por vencidos.

Estas palabras y estos casos nos dicen algo sobre el espíritu de las personas que nos trajeron aquí. Nos dicen que incluso en los momentos más duros, en medio de las circunstancias más difíciles, existe una generosidad, una adaptabilidad, una decencia y una determinación que perseveran; una voluntad de asumir responsabilidad por nuestro futuro y por la posteridad.

Su determinación debe ser nuestra inspiración. Sus inquietudes deben ser nuestra causa. Y debemos mostrarles a ellos y a todo nuestro pueblo que estamos a la altura de la tarea ante nosotros.

Sé que hasta ahora no hemos estado de acuerdo en todo, y no hay duda de que en el futuro habrá ocasiones en las que discreparemos. Pero también sé que todo estadounidense sentado aquí esta noche ama a este país y quiere que tenga éxito. Ése debe ser el punto de partida para cada debate que tengamos en los próximos meses y el punto de retorno cuando concluyan dichos debates. Ésa es la base sobre la cual el pueblo estadounidense espera que encontremos terreno común.

Y si lo hacemos, si nos unimos y sacamos a este país de la profundidad de esta crisis; si hacemos que nuestra gente vuelva a trabajar y volvemos a poner en marcha el motor de nuestra prosperidad; si enfrentamos los desafíos de nuestros tiempos y hacemos un llamado a ese espíritu perdurable de un estadounidense que no se da por vencido, entonces algún día, dentro de muchos años, nuestros hijos podrán decirles a sus hijos que éste fue el momento en que hicimos, en palabras que están talladas en este recinto, "algo digno de ser recordado". Gracias, que Dios los bendiga y que Dios bendiga a Estados Unidos de América.

20090225 Declaraciones del Presidente Barack Obama -- Discurso ante Sesión Conjunta del Congreso
Kevin Dayhoff

Remarks of President Barack Obama -- Address to Joint Session of Congress

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Remarks of President Barack Obama -- Address to Joint Session of Congress

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Address to Joint Session of Congress
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

(en español)

Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:

I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has – a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that for too long, we have not always met these responsibilities – as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.

The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. And though all these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.

It’s an agenda that begins with jobs.

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President’s Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government – I don’t. Not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited – I am. I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. That’s why I pushed for quick action. And tonight, I am grateful that this Congress delivered, and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.

Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector – jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.

Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.

Because of this plan, 95% of the working households in America will receive a tax cut – a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1st.

Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college. And Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm.

I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.

That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort – because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend. I have appointed a proven and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new website called so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.

So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track. But it is just the first step. Because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.

I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family’s well-being. You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe; your insurance is secure; and you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That is not the source of concern.

The concern is that if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins.

You see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education; how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.

But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. With so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or to each other. When there is no lending, families can’t afford to buy homes or cars. So businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further.

That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, restore confidence, and re-start lending.

We will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.

Second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and re-finance their mortgages. It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values – Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped bring about. In fact, the average family who re-finances today can save nearly $2000 per year on their mortgage.

Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy.

I understand that on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives banks bailouts with no strings attached, and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions. But such an approach won’t solve the problem. And our goal is to quicken the day when we re-start lending to the American people and American business and end this crisis once and for all.

I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade. That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.

I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and results that followed. So were the American taxpayers. So was I.

So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you – I get it.

But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.

That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks – it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, and if they can get a loan too, maybe they’ll finally buy that car, or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.

So I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary. Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes short-cuts and abuse.

The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we have come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America – as a blueprint for our future.

My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.

For history tells a different story. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either. It is time for America to lead again.

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don’t do what’s easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward.

For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold.

Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last thirty days than we have in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

This budget builds on these reforms. It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform – a down-payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.

The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.

Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish.

This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.

Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.

But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country – Senator Edward Kennedy.

These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home.

There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children. And that is the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down.

I’m proud that we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.

Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.

In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut – that’s right, a tax cut – for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way.

To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.

Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.

We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.

And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away.

As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: we honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support. To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.

To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.

In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand.

To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty – we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power.

And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world’s.

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.

Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege – one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill.

I know that it is easy to lose sight of this truth – to become cynical and doubtful; consumed with the petty and the trivial.

But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary.

I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ''I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."

I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community – how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. "The tragedy was terrible," said one of the men who helped them rebuild. "But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity."

And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters."

We are not quitters.

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, "something worthy to be remembered." Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

20090224 Obama Address to Joint Session of Congress

Kevin Dayhoff