Good morning. Last November you demanded a new spirit of action and an end to gridlock in Washington. Well, what you demanded is finally taking hold. The House and the Senate are now completing work on the heart of our bold economic plan for new directions: to create jobs, to increase incomes, to bring down our terrible national debt.
The actions taking place in Congress are a welcome departure from the status quo of the past. For 12 years, our Government was paralyzed by partisan gridlock, our economy caught in the grip of powerful special interests who bent the system so that they could win at our expense. Our deficits went up, and the creation of high-paying jobs went down. And good families found themselves working harder, paying more in taxes, and bringing less money home.
When you sent me and our administration here, you wanted a plan of action, and we've provided it. Our plan is based on this simple principle: The best social program is a good job, and the best way to reduce the deficit is by cutting spending and making smart investments to grow the economy.
Last week, the House of Representatives endorsed this plan. And this week, the Senate did the same, approving our budget resolution in record time, just 36 days after we took it to you, the American people.
I salute our supporters on Capitol Hill for their outstanding work. And also I want to thank Vice President Gore, who's worked tirelessly to enlist lawmakers in the cause of change. We should all be pleased that we're on our way toward putting this plan in motion.
Before the Congress goes home for Easter recess, I'm counting on them to complete their work on the plan, to finish the budget and pass our proposals to create good jobs in the short term. The progress we've made shows we're beating the status quo. And you have given us the clout to do it.
We've come a long way in 9 1/2 weeks. Interest rates are down. The power of investment is returning to the economy. Confidence is strong. But I won't rest until we fight the economy and guarantee for future generations the prosperity that should be the birthright of every American.
We can begin with this program, because the best way to build the economy and lay the foundation for the future is to create 8 million jobs in the next 4 years and by adopting the immediate investments that will create a half a million jobs in the near term. That's what this plan does.
To create jobs and to make our economy more productive, we're planning to build and repair new roads and transit systems. We want to place hundreds of thousands of Americans in productive summer jobs and get young people the education they need while they're working. And we're challenging the private sector to create more and giving them the incentives to do it.
We want to fund future-oriented research and equip our Nation's young scientists and engineers with the skills to excel in high-technology fields. We want to convert military technology for peaceful uses that will benefit all of us and help communities hard hit by base closings and cutbacks on defense contracts. We want to retrain the defense workers put out of work by the end of the cold war. These people are patriots, and they deserve nothing less than a chance to work in civilian jobs that will earn them the kind of money they earned protecting our national defense.
Some people say these investments are unnecessary and costly. Their only alternative is to do nothing, accept things just the way they are, and hope, with no Government action in partnership with the private sector, somehow things will get better. These friends of the status quo have tried everything in recent days to show that we don't need new investments. But they've forgotten: We tried cutting investments for years. We forgot about the human equation, the necessity to train and educate people. And guess what? We didn't get jobs.
We still have a jobless economic recovery. If this were even an average recovery, we'd have 3 million more Americans working today. Many of the jobs that were created last month were part-time jobs. And the unemployment rate is still higher today than it was at the bottom of the recession.
This job drought has put individuals and families under great stress. Americans don't want handouts; they just want a hand up, a chance to work and to provide for their own. And our plan does just that. In doing so, we'll be on our way to a real job-creating recovery that gets the incomes of American workers growing again.
We have to raise the living standards of our people now and in the long run. To keep our preeminence in the world economy, we have to create a smarter work force, with lifelong learning that trains all our people for better, higher paying jobs. And we need to develop the new technologies that are farsighted, that will create the high-wage jobs of today and tomorrow. If we're shortsighted today, we'll be blindsided tomorrow.
That's why I'm working hard, not just on this economic plan, although it is the centerpiece of our efforts, but on other fronts too: from controlling health care costs and providing the security of health care to all Americans, to moving people from welfare into jobs, to correcting the way we finance campaigns to bring the people in and move the special interests out. Each step of the way, I'm trying to listen to you. What happens on the short stretch of road between 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill is only meaningful if we're acting for you and with you. This is the promise of our new plan for new directions.
Thanks for listening.