Thanks to the hard work and determination of the American people, we have made significant progress over the last 4 years. After a decade of war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. After years of recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in 5 years, and less foreign oil than we have in 20 years. Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before.
But we know that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded. Our economy is adding jobs—but too many people still cannot find full-time employment. Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs—but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.
It is our generation’s task to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth—a rising, thriving middle class. It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country—the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or whom you love.
It is our unfinished task to make sure that this Government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great Nation.
A growing economy that creates good, middle class jobs—this must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a Nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?
This Budget seeks to answer each of these questions. Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing. After shedding
jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added more than 500,000 jobs over the past 3 years. Companies large and small are increasingly deciding to bring jobs back to America.
To accelerate this trend, the Budget builds on the success of the manufacturing innovation institute we created in Youngstown, Ohio last year, and calls for the creation of a network of 15 of these hubs across the Nation. In these innovation hubs, businesses will partner with universities and Federal
agencies to turn regions around our country into global centers of high-tech jobs.
The Budget also includes new initiatives to support manufacturing communities, including a new tax credit to strengthen their ability to attract investments and jobs. And it expands my Administration’s SelectUSA initiative to help draw businesses and investment from around the world to our shores.
If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. That is why the Budget maintains a world-class commitment to science and research, targeting resources to those areas most likely to contribute directly to the creation of transformational technologies that can create the businesses and jobs of the future.
No area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. The Budget continues to advance my “all-of-the-above” strategy on energy, investing in clean energy research and development; promoting energy efficiency in our cars, homes, and businesses; encouraging responsible domestic
energy production; and launching new efforts to combat the threat of climate change.
Modeled after my successful Race to the Top education reform effort, the Budget includes a new Race to the Top energy efficiency challenge for States, rewarding those that implement the most effective policies to cut energy waste. And it establishes a new Energy Security Trust funded by royalty revenue from oil and gas leases to support initiatives to shift our cars and trucks off oil, cutting our Nation’s reliance on foreign oil.
Over the last 4 years, we have begun the hard work of rebuilding our Nation’s infrastructure. We have built or improved over 350,000 miles of road and more than 6,000 miles of rail. And we have repaired or replaced over 20,000 bridges. But to compete in the 21st Century economy and become a
magnet for jobs, we must do more. We need to repair our existing infrastructure, and invest in the infrastructure of tomorrow, including high-speed rail, high-tech schools, and self-healing power grids.
These investments will both lay the foundation for long-term economic growth and put workers back on the job now.
My Budget includes $50 billion for up-front infrastructure investments, including a “Fix-it-First” program that makes an immediate investment to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally-deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers do not shoulder the whole burden, the Budget creates a Rebuild America Partnership to attract private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; and modern schools worthy of our children.
The Budget also supports efforts I announced earlier this year to modernize and improve the efficiency of the Federal permitting process, cutting through the red tape that has been holding back even some of the most carefully planned infrastructure projects. These efforts will help us to achieve the new goal I set to cut timelines in half for infrastructure projects, while creating new incentives for better outcomes for communities and the environment.
All of these initiatives in manufacturing, energy, and infrastructure will help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs. But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs.
And that has to start at the earliest possible age. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program, and the high cost of private preschool puts too much of a financial burden on middle class families.
The Budget therefore includes a proposal that ensures 4-year-olds across the country have access to high-quality preschool education through a landmark new initiative in partnership with the States. And it increases the availability of early learning for our youngest children to help their growth and development during the formative early years of life.
Providing a year of free, public preschool education for 4-year-old children is an important investment in our future. It will give all our kids the best start in life, helping them perform better in elementary school and ultimately helping them, and the country, be better prepared for the demands of the global economy. Not only that, it could save hard-working families thousands of dollars each year in child care costs. This is an investment we need to make, and it is fully paid for in this Budget by imposing a new tax on every pack of cigarettes sold.