President champions austerity in preview of WH budget during weekly address.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
February 12, 2011
A few months ago, I received a letter from a woman named Brenda Breece. I wanted to share her story because it speaks to what a lot of families are going through – and it offers a good example of the kind of responsibility that’s needed in Washington right now.
Brenda is a mom and a special-ed teacher from Missouri. Her husband, David, was employed at the local Chrysler plant for nearly four decades. They’ve worked hard their whole lives. But like a lot of folks, they’ve taken some hits over the past few years. When the Chrysler plant closed, David had to take early retirement. His pension helps, but it’s half of what he earned before. Meanwhile, because of budget cuts, Brenda has had to buy school supplies for her students out of her own pocket – because it’s her job and she cares about those kids.
Money has been tight, but they are doing the best they can. And like so many families, they are sacrificing what they don’t need so they can afford what really matters. This is what Brenda told me. “I feel my family is frugal,” she said. “We go to the movies…once a month, but usually we just wait for them to come out on TV… I watch the food budget… We combine trips into town [and] use coupons … and we trim each other’s hair when we need a haircut.”
So Brenda and her husband know what they can do without. But they also know what investments are too important to sacrifice. Their daughter, Rachel, is a sophomore in college with a 4.0 grade point average. The tuition is a big expense. But it’s worth it, because it will give her the chance to achieve her dreams. In fact, Brenda is looking for a second job to ensure, as she told me, “the money is there to help Rachel with her future.”
Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget. They understand what it takes to make ends meet without forgoing important investments like education. Well, it’s time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do. And on Monday, I’m proposing a new budget that will help us live within our means while investing in our future.
My budget freezes annual domestic spending for the next five years – even on programs I care deeply about – which will reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade. This freeze will bring this type of spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president. We’ve stripped down the budget by getting rid of waste. For example, we’re getting rid of thousands of government-owned buildings that sit empty because they aren’t needed. I’ve also proposed freezing salaries for hardworking government employees, because everyone has to do their part. And I’m going to make sure politics doesn’t add to our deficit, by vetoing any bill that contains earmarks.
And yet, just as the Breece family is making difficult sacrifices while still investing in the future – by helping their daughter pay her tuition – my budget does the same. I’m proposing that we invest in what will do the most to grow the economy in the years to come. This means job-creating investments in roads, high-speed speed trains, and broadband. This means cutting-edge research that holds the promise of creating countless jobs and whole new industries, like clean energy and biotechnology. And it means improving our schools and making college more affordable – to give every young person the chance to fulfill his or her potential, and receive the job training they need to succeed. Because it would be a mistake to balance the budget by sacrificing our children’s education.
So, after a decade of rising deficits, this budget asks Washington to live within its means, while at the same time investing in our future. It cuts what we can’t afford to pay for what we cannot do without. That’s what families do in hard times. And that’s what our country has to do too.