4/18/09: Your Weekly Address

Uploaded by whitehouse on 17.04.2009

>> MR. PRESIDENT: It's not news to say that we're living
through challenging times.
The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
A credit crisis that's made that downturn worse.
And a fiscal disaster that has accumulated over a period of years.
In the year 2000, we had projected budget surpluses in
the trillions, and Washington appeared to be on the road to fiscal stability.
Eight years later, and when I walked in the door, the
projected budget deficit for this year alone was 1.3 trillion.
And in order to jumpstart our struggling economy, we were
forced to make investments that added to that deficit through
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
But as surely as our future depends on building a new energy
economy, controlling health care costs, and ensuring that our
kids are once again the best educated in the world, it also
depends on restoring a sense of responsibility and
accountability to our federal budget.
Without significant change to steer away from ever-expanding
deficits and debt, we are on an unsustainable course.
So today, we simply can't afford to perpetuate a system in
Washington where politicians and bureaucrats make decisions
behind closed doors with little accountability for the consequences.
Where billions are squandered on programs that have outlived
their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of the
lobbyist or interest group.
And where outdated technology and information systems
undermine efficiency, threaten our security, and fail to serve an engaged citizenry.
If we're going to rebuild our economy on a solid foundation,
we need to change the way we do business in Washington.
We need to restore the American people's confidence in their
government, that it is on their side, spending their money
wisely, to meet their family's needs.
That starts with the painstaking work of examining every program,
every entitlement, every dollar of government spending, and
asking ourselves, is this program really essential?
Are taxpayers getting their money's worth?
Can we accomplish our goals more efficiently, more effectively
some other way?
It's a process we've already begun, scouring our budget line
by line for programs that don't work so we can cut them to make
room for ones that do.
That means ending tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas.
Stopping the fraud and abuse in our Medicare program and
reforming our health care system to cut costs for families and businesses.
It means strengthening whistle-blower protections for
government employees who step forward to report wasteful spending.
And it means reinstating the pay-as-you-go rule that we
followed during the 1990s.
So if we want to spend, we need to find somewhere else to cut.
And this Monday, in my first full Cabinet meeting, I will ask
all my department and agency heads for specific proposals for
cutting their budgets.
Already, members of my Cabinet have begun to trim back
unnecessary expenditures.
Secretary Napolitano, for example, is ending consulting
contracts to create new seals and logos that have cost the
Department of Homeland Security $3 million since 2003.
In the largest department, Secretary Gates has launched a
historic project to reform defense contracting procedures
and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful
spending and cost overruns.
And I commend Senators McCain and Levin, a Republican and a
Democrat, who have teamed up to lead this effort in Congress.
Finally, in the coming weeks, I will be announcing the
elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be
wasteful or ineffective.
In this effort, there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects.
All across America, families are making hard choices, and it's
time their government did the same.
And that's why I've assembled a team of management, technology
and budget experts to guide us in this work.
Leaders who will help us revamp government operations from top
to bottom, and ensure that the Federal Government is truly
working for the American people.
I've named Jeffrey Zients, a leading CEO, management
consultant and entrepreneur, to serve as Deputy Director for
Management of the Office of Management and Budget, and as
the first ever Chief Performance Officer.
Jeffrey will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find
best practices throughout our government.
Aneesh Chopra, who is currently the Secretary of Technology for
Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, has agreed to serve as America's
Chief Technology Officer.
In this role, Aneesh will promote technological innovation
to help achieve our most urgent priorities, from creating jobs
and reducing health care costs, to keeping our nation secure.
Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our Chief
Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for
setting technology policy across the government, and using
technology to improve security, ensure transparency and lower costs.
The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their
government, and ensure that they know exactly how we're spending
their money and can hold us accountable for the results.
None of this will be easy. Big change never is.
But with the leadership of these individuals, I am confident that
we can break our bad habits, put an end to the mismanagement that
has plagued our government, and start living within our means again.
That's how we will get our deficits under control and move
from recovery to prosperity.
And that's how we will give the American people the kind of
government they expect and deserve.
One that's efficient, accountable, and fully worthy of their trust.
Thank you.