Barack Obama: We cannot afford to waste money on things we don't need

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From the the day I took office, I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, nor would it happen overnight. And we will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead. But I also believe that we will get through this – that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before.

Of course, like every family going through hard times, our country must make tough choices. In order to pay for the things we need, we cannot waste money on the things we don't.

My administration inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, the largest in history. And we've inherited a budgeting process as irresponsible as it is unsustainable. For years, as Wall Street used accounting tricks to conceal costs and avoid responsibility, Washington did, too. These kinds of irresponsible budgets – and inexcusable practices – are now in the past. For the first time in many years, my administration has produced a budget that represents an honest reckoning of where we are and where we need to go.

It's also a budget that begins to make the hard choices that we've avoided for far too long – a strategy that cuts where we must and invests where we need. That's why it includes $2trn in deficit reduction while making historic investments in America's future. That's why it reduces discretionary spending for non-defense programs as a share of the economy by more than 10 per cent over the next decade -- to the lowest level since they began keeping these records nearly half a century ago. And that's why on Wednesday I signed a presidential memorandum to end unnecessary no-bid contracts and to dramatically reform the way contracts are awarded – reforms that will save the American people up to $40bn each year.

Finally, because we cannot bring our deficit down or grow our economy without tackling the skyrocketing cost of health care, I held a health care summit on Thursday to begin the long-overdue process of reform.

Our ideas and opinions about how to achieve this reform will vary, but our goal must be the same: quality, affordable health care for every American, that no longer overwhelms the budgets of families, businesses and of our government.

Taken from the US President's weekly address to the nation