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Published: February 24, 2009
Following is a transcript of President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, as recorded by CQ Transcriptions.
OBAMA: Thank you very much.
Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and the first lady of the United States… (APPLAUSE)
… who’s around here somewhere…
… I have 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.
OBAMA: 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 our 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.
OBAMA: 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 to 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 of 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…
Regulations — 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 jump-start 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 is what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.
It’s an agenda that begins with jobs. As soon…
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