Good morning. I'm speaking to you from Halifax, Canada, where I've been meeting with the leaders of the world's largest industrial democracies. We've taken concrete steps to strengthen the world economy. We've agreed on measures to anticipate and prevent future financial crises, like the one that happened earlier this year in Mexico, and to promote economic growth in countries that will provide markets of tomorrow for our American exports.
The work we're doing here is part of my administration's strategy to create jobs and raise incomes and living standards for the American people. Our responsibility is to restore the American dream, to give our children the chance that we've had to make America work well for all people who work hard.
To do that, one of the things we have to do is to reduce the deficit and balance the budget. Earlier this week, I outlined my plan to balance the budget in 10 years. This plan proves we can balance the budget while we continue to invest in the things that will keep America strong, things like education, health care, medical research, and technology. My plan will keep our economy strong as we eliminate the deficit. And unlike other plans, my plan protects the people in our country who have so much to give and who have given so much.
For example, my plan would avoid a number of cuts proposed by the Congress that would seriously hurt hundreds of thousands of American veterans. The House budget plan has proposed quadrupling the amount veterans pay for the prescription drugs they need, while cutting taxes a lot for upper income Americans who don't really need a tax cut.
Under my plan that wouldn't happen. We can balance the budget in 10 years without harming the people who protected our Nation and who now have to get by without much to live on.
The Senate budget plan has similar flaws. For example, it proposes to deny veterans benefits to anyone in the military who is injured unless that injury is directly connected to the performance of his or her duties. Now, think about what that means. A young Army sergeant stationed overseas is on his way home from the movie theater one night when he's off duty. He gets hit by a drunk driver, and he's paralyzed. The Senate budget says, "Tough luck, no veterans benefits to help you with the injury."
I think we've got a duty to help our veterans when they're sick or injured. But we also have a duty to balance the budget. What I want you to know is that we can do both. My plan cuts Federal spending by $1.1 trillion. It does not raise taxes. It is disciplined, comprehensive, and serious. It won't be easy, but we need to do it, and we can.
Let's keep in mind the purpose. The purpose is to renew the American dream, to grow the middle class in terms of jobs and incomes, and to give poor people the chance to work themselves into the middle class.
With that purpose in mind, my balanced budget has five basic priorities: First, help people make the most of their own lives. That means that while we cut the deficit, we have to increase investment in education, not cut education.
Second, we have to control health care costs, but do it by strengthening Medicare, saving Medicaid, not by slashing services for the elderly. We can maintain benefits by cutting costs through genuine reform, like more home care for the elderly so they can stay out of more expensive institutions, preventive mammograms, and respite care for people with Alzheimer's, and cracking down on fraud and abuse and giving people more incentives to go into managed care.
Third, cut taxes, but do it for the middle class, not the wealthy. We shouldn't cut education or Medicare just to give people money who don't really need it. Instead, let's help middle class Americans pay for college, like the GI bill did for veterans after World War II.
Fourth, save money by cutting welfare, but do it in a way that saves enough for investment to move people to work. Don't save money just by throwing people off the rolls or hurting their children, who are vulnerable through no fault of their own. The congressional proposals are tough on kids and weak on work. We need to be tough on work and supportive of children. The congressional approach will cost a lot more money down the road than it will ever save.
The fifth principle is, as I've said before, balance the budget in 10 years. We could do it in 7 years, as some in Congress want. But there's no reason to inflict the pain that would cause or to run the risk of a recession. Think about it like this: If you bought a home with a mortgage, you'd sure want to pay it off just as fast as you could without hurting your family. But if the choice was pay it off in 10 years and pay your medical bills and send your daughter to college, or pay it off in 7 and go without the best care and tell your daughter you're sorry but she'll have to fend for herself, I don't think you'd have a hard time making the right choice. We can have all the benefits of balancing the budget without a lot of the burdens if we'll do it in 10 instead of 7 years.
Now, don't let anybody fool you: balancing the budget is not going to be a walk in the park. It will require real cuts; it will cause real pain. But the difference between my plan and the congressional plans is the difference between necessary cuts and unacceptable pain. Remember the goals: Restore the American dream, promote jobs and higher incomes, reinforce families and communities.
This is a time when we must, more than ever before, join together to seize the opportunities before us, a moment of immense promise. We can renew the American dream, and we have to do it and do it right.
Thanks for listening.