Watch the Obama press conference video on Tues. Feb. 15, 2011. President Barack Obama holds a news conference on the FY 2012 Budget at the White House. Speech time is 11 a.m. ET. He will answer questions from reporters after delivering an opening statement. Watch live stream video online below at that time. Thereafter check back for the full replay video and transcript text which will be posted as soon as available.
UPDATE: Full video and transcript are below.
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The transcript is below.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 15, 2011
Press Conference by the President
South Court Auditorium
10:59 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Please have a seat. I figured that I’d give Jay one more taste of freedom — (laughter) — before we lock him in a room with all of you, so I’m here to do a little downfield blocking for him. Before I take a few questions, let me say a few words about the budget we put out yesterday.
Just like every family in America, the federal government has to do two things at once. It has to live within its means while still investing in the future. If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, you might put off a vacation. But you wouldn’t want to sacrifice saving for your kids’ college education or making key repairs in your house. So you cut back on what you can’t afford to focus on what you can’t do without.
And that’s what we’ve done with this year’s budget. When I took office, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. Our budget meets that pledge and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade.
As a start, it freezes domestic discretionary spending over the next five years, which would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and bring annual domestic spending to its lowest share of the economy since Dwight Eisenhower.
Now, some of the savings will come through less waste and more efficiency. To take just one example, we’ll give — we’ll save billions of dollars by getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots, and government-owned properties that we no longer need. And to make sure special interests are not larding up legislation with special projects, I’ve pledged to veto any bills that contain earmarks.
Still, even as we cut waste and inefficiency, this budget freeze will also require us to make some tough choices. It will mean freezing the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. It will mean cutting things I care about deeply, like community action programs for low-income communities. And we have some conservation programs that are going to be scaled back. These are all programs that I wouldn’t be cutting if we were in a better fiscal situation. But we’re not.
We also know that cutting annual domestic spending alone won’t be enough to meet our long-term fiscal challenges. That’s what the bipartisan fiscal commission concluded; that’s what I’ve concluded. And that’s why I’m eager to tackle excessive spending wherever we find it -– in domestic spending, but also in defense spending, health care spending, and spending that is embedded in the tax code.
Some of this spending we’ve begun to tackle in this budget -– like the $78 billion that Secretary Gates identified in defense cuts. But to get where we need to go we’re going to have to do more. We’ll have to bring down health care costs further, including in programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficits. I believe we should strengthen Social Security for future generations, and I think we can do that without slashing benefits or putting current retirees at risk. And I’m willing to work with everybody on Capitol Hill to simplify the individual tax code for all Americans.
All of these steps are going to be difficult. And that’s why all of them will require Democrats, independents, and Republicans to work together. I recognize that there are going to be plenty of arguments in the months to come, and everybody is going to have to give a little bit. But when it comes to difficult choices about our budget and our priorities, we have found common ground before. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill came together to save Social Security. Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress eventually found a way to settle their differences and balance the budget. And many Democrats and Republicans in Congress today came together in December to pass a tax cut that has made Americans’ paychecks a little bigger this year and will spur on additional economic growth this year.
So I believe we can find this common ground, but we’re going to have to work. And we owe the American people a government that lives within its means while still investing in our future — in areas like education, innovation, and infrastructure that will help us attract new jobs and businesses to our shores. That’s the principle that should drive this debate in the coming months. I believe that’s how America will win the future in the coming years.
So with that, let me take a few questions. And I’m going to start off with Ben Feller of AP.
WhiteHouse.gov link for mobile Internet viewing. Live web-feed video. The speech can also be seen on CNN Live starting at 11 a.m. ET (approx). The video stream can also be seen via the White House iPhone app, a free download. There will be live television coverage on cable news channels MSNBC, CNN, Fox News and C-SPAN.
Today’s complete itinerary is here: President Obama official schedule and guidance, Feb. 15, 2011.
For more on the budget see also:
- Obama Talks 2012 Budget Cuts, Investments (Video)
- Obama Budget Escapes Liberal Backlash, for Now
- Obama’s 2012 Budget Proposal: How $3.7 Trillion is Spent (NY Times Interactive Graphic)
- Budget Crunching (Wall Street Journal Interactive Graphic)
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