Bismillah ir rahman ir rahim. In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent.
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, dear sisters and brothers, today is a day of great happiness for me. I am humbled that the Nobel Committee has selected me for this precious award.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support and love. Thank you for the letters and cards that I still receive from all around the world. Your kind and encouraging words strengthen and inspire me.
I would like to thank my parents for their unconditional love. Thank you to my father for not clipping my wings and for letting me fly. Thank you to my mother for inspiring me to be patient and to always speak the truth――which we strongly believe is the true message of Islam.
And also thank you to all my wonderful teachers, who inspired me to believe in myself and be brave.
I am very proud to be the first Pashtun, the first Pakistani, and the youngest person to receive this award.Along with that, I am pretty certain that I am also the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize who still fights with her younger brothers. I want there to be peace everywhere, but my brothers and I are still working on that.
I am also honored to receive this award together with Kailash Satyarthi, who has been a champion for children's rights for a long time. Twice as long, in fact, than I have been alive. I am proud that we can work together and show the world that an Indian and a Pakistani――they can work together and achieve their goals of children's rights.
Dear brothers and sisters, I was named after the inspirational Malalai of Maiwand, who is the Pashtun Joan of Arc. The word Malala means “grief stricken", “sad", but in order to lend some happiness to it, my grandfather would always call me Malala――The happiest girl in this world and today I am very happy that we are together fighting for an important cause.
This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.
I am here to stand up for their rights, to raise their voice... it is not time to pity them. It is time to take action so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education.
I have found that people describe me in many different ways.
Some people call me the girl who was shot by the Taliban.
And some, the girl who fought for her rights.
Some people call me a “Nobel Laureate" now.However, my brothers still call me “that annoying, bossy sister."
As far as I know, I am just a committed and even stubborn person who wants to see every child getting quality education, who wants to see women having equal rights, and who wants peace in every corner of the world.
Education is one of the blessings of life――and one of its necessities. That has been my experience during the 17 years of my life. In my paradise home, Swat, I always loved learning and discovering new things. I remember when my friends and I would decorate our hands with henna on special occasions, and instead of drawing flowers and patterns we would paint our hands with mathematical formulas and equations.
We had a thirst for education because our future was right there in that classroom. We would sit and learn and read together. We loved to wear neat and tidy school uniforms and we would sit there with big dreams in our eyes. We wanted to make our parents proud and prove that we could also excel in our studies and achieve those goals which some people think only boys can.
But things did not remain the same. When I was in Swat, which was a place of tourism and beauty, suddenly changed into a place of terrorism. I was just 10. More than 400 schools were destroyed. Women were flogged. People were killed. And our beautiful dreams turned into nightmares.
Education went from being a right to being a crime.Girls were stopped from going to school.
When my world suddenly changed, my priorities changed too.
I had two options, one was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.
We could not just stand by and see those injustices of the terrorists, denying our rights, ruthlessly killing people, and misusing the name of Islam. We decided to raise our voice and tell them, “Have you not learned that in the Holy Quran Allah says if you kill one person, it is as if you killed the whole humanity? Do you not know that Muhammad, peace be upon him, the Prophet of mercy, he says, ‘Do not harm yourself or others?' And do you not know that the very first word of the Holy Quran is the word ‘iqra,' which means ‘read?'"
The terrorists tried to stop us and attacked me and my friends who are here today, on our school bus, in 2012.But neither their ideas nor bullets could win.
We survived. And since that day, our voices have grown louder and louder.
I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not.
It is the story of many girls.
Today, I tell their stories too. I have brought with me some of my sisters, from Pakistan, from Nigeria and from Syria, who share this story. My brave sisters, Shazia and Kainat who were also shot that day on our school bus, but they have not stopped learning. And my brave sister, Kainat-Somro, who went through severe abuse and extreme violence. Even her brother was killed, but she did not succumb.
Also, my sisiters here, whom I have met during my Malala Fund campaign, my 16-year-old courageous sister, Mezon, From Syria, who now lives in Jordan as a refugee, and she goes from tent to tent encouraging girls and boys to learn.
And my sister Amina, from the north of Nigeria, where Boko Haram threatens and stalks girls and even kidnaps girls, just for wanting to go to school.
Though I appear as one girl, one person, who is 5 foot 2 inches tall, if you include my high heels. It means I am 5 foot only. I am not a lone voice, I am many.
I am Malala, but I am also Shazia.
I am Kainat.
I am Kainat-Somro.
I am Mezon.
I am Amina. I am those 66 million girls who are deprived of education.
And today I am not raising my voice; it is the voice of those 66 million girls. Sometimes people like to ask me, “Why should girls go to school? Why is it important for them?" But I think the more important question is, “Why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't they have this right to go to school?"
Dear brothers and sisters,today, in half of the world, we see rapid progress, and development. However, there are many countries where millions still suffer from the very old problems of war, poverty, and injustice.
We still see conflicts in which innocent people lose their lives and children become orphans. We see many people becoming refugees in Syria, Gaza and Iraq. In Afghanistan, we see families being killed in suicide attacks and bomb blasts.
Many children in Africa do not have access to education because of poverty. And, as I said, we still see girls who have no freedom to go to school, in the north of Nigeria.
Many children in countries like Pakistan and India, as Kailash Satyarthi mentioned, many children, especially in India and Pakistan, are deprived of their right to education because of social taboos, or they have been forced into child marriage or into child labor.
One of my very good school friends, the same age as me, who has always been a bold and confident girl, dreamed of becoming a doctor. But her dream remained a dream. At the age of 12, she was forced to get married and then soon she had a son, she had a child, when she herself was a child,only 14. I know that she could have been a very good doctor, but she couldn't, because she was a girl.
Her story is why I dedicate the Nobel Peace Prize money to the Malala Fund, to help give girls quality education everywhere, anywhere, in the world, and to raise their voices. The first place this funding will go to is where my heart is, to build schools in Pakistan, especially in my home of Swat and Shangla.
In my own village there is still no secondary school for girls. And it is my wish and my commitment, and now my challenge, to build one, so that my friends and my sisters can go there to school and get quality education and they get this opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
This is where I will begin, but it is not where I will stop. I will continue this fight until I see every child in school.
Dear brothers and sisters, great people who brought change, like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Aung San Suu Kyi, once stood here on this stage. I hope the steps that Kailash Satyarthi and I have taken so far, and will take on this journey, will also bring change――lasting change.
My great hope is that this will be the last time we must fight for education. Let's solve this once and for all.
We have already taken many steps.Now it is time to take a leap.
It is not time to tell the world leaders to realize how important education is――they already know it. Their own children are in good schools. Now it is time to call them to take action, for the rest of the world's children. We ask the world leaders to unite and make education their top priority.
Fifteen years ago, the world leaders decided on a set of global goals, the Millennium Development Goals. In the years that have followed, we have seen some progress. The number of children out of school has been halved, as Kailash Satyarthi said. However, the world focused only on primary education and progress did not reach everyone.
In the year 2015, representatives from all around the world will meet in the United Nations to set the next set of goals, the Sustainable Development Goals. This will set the world's ambition for the next generations.
The world can no longer accept that basic education is enough. Why do leaders accept that for children in developing countries only basic literacy is sufficient, when their own children do homework in algebra, mathematics, science and physics?
Leaders must seize this opportunity to guarantee a free, quality, primary and secondary education for every child.
Some will say this is impractical or too expensive or too hard, or maybe even impossible. But it is time the world thinks bigger.
Dear sisters and brothers, the so-called world of adults may understand it, but we children don't. Why is it that countries which we call “strong" are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace? Why is it that giving guns is so easy but giving books is so hard? Why is it that making tanks is so easy, but building schools is so hard?
We are living in the modern age, and we believe that nothing is impossible.We have reached the Moon, 45 years ago, and maybe we will soon land on Mars. Then, in the 21st century, we must be able to give every child quality education.
Dear sisters and brothers, dear fellow children, we must work... and not wait.Not just the politicians and the world leaders, we all need to contribute.Me,you,we,it is our duty.
Let us become the first generation to decide to be the last. Let us become the first generation that decides to be the last that sees empty classrooms, lost childhoods, wasted potentials.
Let this be the last time that a girl or a boy spends their childhood in a factory.
Let this be the last time that a girl is forced into early child marriage.
Let this be the last time that a child loses life in war.
Let this be the last time that we see a child out of school.
Let this end with us.
Let's begin this ending.
Together, today, right here, right now, let's begin this ending now.
Thank you so much. Thank you for this wonderful welcome. Thank you to the people of Prague. Thank you to the people of the Czech Republic. (Applause.) Today, I'm proud to stand here with you in the middle of this great city, in the center of Europe. (Applause.) And, to paraphrase one of my predecessors, I am also proud to be the man who brought Michelle Obama to Prague. (Applause.)
To Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, to all the dignitaries who are here, thank you for your extraordinary hospitality. And to the people of the Czech Republic, thank you for your friendship to the United States. (Applause.)
I've learned over many years to appreciate the good company and the good humor of the Czech people in my hometown of Chicago. (Applause.) Behind me is a statue of a hero of the Czech people ?- Tomas Masaryk. (Applause.) In 1918, after America had pledged its support for Czech independence, Masaryk spoke to a crowd in Chicago that was estimated to be over 100,000. I don't think I can match his record -- (laughter) -- but I am honored to follow his footsteps from Chicago to Prague. (Applause.)
For over a thousand years, Prague has set itself apart from any other city in any other place. You've known war and peace. You've seen empires rise and fall. You've led revolutions in the arts and science, in politics and in poetry. Through it all, the people of Prague have insisted on pursuing their own path, and defining their own destiny. And this city ?- this Golden City which is both ancient and youthful -? stands as a living monument to your unconquerable spirit.
When I was born, the world was divided, and our nations were faced with very different circumstances. Few people would have predicted that someone like me would one day become the President of the United States. (Applause.) Few people would have predicted that an American President would one day be permitted to speak to an audience like this in Prague. (Applause.) Few would have imagined that the Czech Republic would become a free nation, a member of NATO, a leader of a united Europe. Those ideas would have been dismissed as dreams.
We are here today because enough people ignored the voices who told them that the world could not change.
We're here today because of the courage of those who stood up and took risks to say that freedom is a right for all people, no matter what side of a wall they live on, and no matter what they look like.
We are here today because of the Prague Spring ?- because the simple and principled pursuit of liberty and opportunity shamed those who relied on the power of tanks and arms to put down the will of a people.
We are here today because 20 years ago, the people of this city took to the streets to claim the promise of a new day, and the fundamental human rights that had been denied them for far too long. Sametova Revoluce -- (applause) -- the Velvet Revolution taught us many things. It showed us that peaceful protest could shake the foundations of an empire, and expose the emptiness of an ideology. It showed us that small countries can play a pivotal role in world events, and that young people can lead the way in overcoming old conflicts. (Applause.) And it proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon.
That's why I'm speaking to you in the center of a Europe that is peaceful, united and free -? because ordinary people believed that divisions could be bridged, even when their leaders did not. They believed that walls could come down; that peace could prevail.
We are here today because Americans and Czechs believed against all odds that today could be possible. (Applause.)
Now, we share this common history. But now this generation -? our generation -? cannot stand still. We, too, have a choice to make. As the world has become less divided, it has become more interconnected. And we've seen events move faster than our ability to control them -? a global economy in crisis, a changing climate, the persistent dangers of old conflicts, new threats and the spread of catastrophic weapons.
None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily. But all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together; that we focus on our common interests, not on occasional differences; and that we reaffirm our shared values, which are stronger than any force that could drive us apart. That is the work that we must carry on. That is the work that I have come to Europe to begin. (Applause.)
To renew our prosperity, we need action coordinated across borders. That means investments to create new jobs. That means resisting the walls of protectionism that stand in the way of growth. That means a change in our financial system, with new rules to prevent abuse and future crisis. (Applause.)
And we have an obligation to our common prosperity and our common humanity to extend a hand to those emerging markets and impoverished people who are suffering the most, even though they may have had very little to do with financial crises, which is why we set aside over a trillion dollars for the International Monetary Fund earlier this week, to make sure that everybody -- everybody -- receives some assistance. (Applause.)
Now, to protect our planet, now is the time to change the way that we use energy. (Applause.) Together, we must confront climate change by ending the world's dependence on fossil fuels, by tapping the power of new sources of energy like the wind and sun, and calling upon all nations to do their part. And I pledge to you that in this global effort, the United States is now ready to lead. (Applause.)
To provide for our common security, we must strengthen our alliance. NATO was founded 60 years ago, after Communism took over Czechoslovakia. That was when the free world learned too late that it could not afford division. So we came together to forge the strongest alliance that the world has ever known. And we should -- stood shoulder to shoulder -- year after year, decade after decade ?- until an Iron Curtain was lifted, and freedom spread like flowing water.
This marks the 10th year of NATO membership for the Czech Republic. And I know that many times in the 20th century, decisions were made without you at the table. Great powers let you down, or determined your destiny without your voice being heard. I am here to say that the United States will never turn its back on the people of this nation. (Applause.) We are bound by shared values, shared history -- (applause.) We are bound by shared values and shared history and the enduring promise of our alliance. NATO's Article V states it clearly: An attack on one is an attack on all. That is a promise for our time, and for all time.
The people of the Czech Republic kept that promise after America was attacked; thousands were killed on our soil, and NATO responded. NATO's mission in Afghanistan is fundamental to the safety of people on both sides of the Atlantic. We are targeting the same al Qaeda terrorists who have struck from New York to London, and helping the Afghan people take responsibility for their future. We are demonstrating that free nations can make common cause on behalf of our common security. And I want you to know that we honor the sacrifices of the Czech people in this endeavor, and mourn the loss of those you've lost.
But no alliance can afford to stand still. We must work together as NATO members so that we have contingency plans in place to deal with new threats, wherever they may come from. We must strengthen our cooperation with one another, and with other nations and institutions around the world, to confront dangers that recognize no borders. And we must pursue constructive relations with Russia on issues of common concern.
Now, one of those issues that I'll focus on today is fundamental to the security of our nations and to the peace of the world -? that's the future of nuclear weapons in the 21st century.
The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War. No nuclear war was fought between the United States and the Soviet Union, but generations lived with the knowledge that their world could be erased in a single flash of light. Cities like Prague that existed for centuries, that embodied the beauty and the talent of so much of humanity, would have ceased to exist.
Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons. Testing has continued. Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one. Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered on a global non-proliferation regime, but as more people and nations break the rules, we could reach the point where the center cannot hold.
Now, understand, this matters to people everywhere. One nuclear weapon exploded in one city -? be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague ?- could kill hundreds of thousands of people. And no matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences might be -? for our global safety, our security, our society, our economy, to our ultimate survival.
Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be stopped, cannot be checked -? that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction. Such fatalism is a deadly adversary, for if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.
Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. (Applause.) And as nuclear power ?- as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.
So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. (Applause.) I'm not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly ?- perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, "Yes, we can." (Applause.)
Now, let me describe to you the trajectory we need to be on. First, the United States will take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons. To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same. Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies ?- including the Czech Republic. But we will begin the work of reducing our arsenal.
To reduce our warheads and stockpiles, we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year. (Applause.) President Medvedev and I began this process in London, and will seek a new agreement by the end of this year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold. And this will set the stage for further cuts, and we will seek to include all nuclear weapons states in this endeavor.
To achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. (Applause.) After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.
And to cut off the building blocks needed for a bomb, the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons. If we are serious about stopping the spread of these weapons, then we should put an end to the dedicated production of weapons-grade materials that create them. That's the first step.
Second, together we will strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a basis for cooperation.
The basic bargain is sound: Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy. To strengthen the treaty, we should embrace several principles. We need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections. We need real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the treaty without cause.
And we should build a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank, so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation. That must be the right of every nation that renounces nuclear weapons, especially developing countries embarking on peaceful programs. And no approach will succeed if it's based on the denial of rights to nations that play by the rules. We must harness the power of nuclear energy on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change, and to advance peace opportunity for all people.
But we go forward with no illusions. Some countries will break the rules. That's why we need a structure in place that ensures when any nation does, they will face consequences.
Just this morning, we were reminded again of why we need a new and more rigorous approach to address this threat. North Korea broke the rules once again by testing a rocket that could be used for long range missiles. This provocation underscores the need for action ?- not just this afternoon at the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.
Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response -- (applause) -- now is the time for a strong international response, and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons. All nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime. And that's why we must stand shoulder to shoulder to pressure the North Koreans to change course.
Iran has yet to build a nuclear weapon. My administration will seek engagement with Iran based on mutual interests and mutual respect. We believe in dialogue. (Applause.) But in that dialogue we will present a clear choice. We want Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations, politically and economically. We will support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections. That's a path that the Islamic Republic can take. Or the government can choose increased isolation, international pressure, and a potential nuclear arms race in the region that will increase insecurity for all.
So let me be clear: Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran's neighbors and our allies. The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. (Applause.) If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed. (Applause.)
So, finally, we must ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. This is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security. One terrorist with one nuclear weapon could unleash massive destruction. Al Qaeda has said it seeks a bomb and that it would have no problem with using it. And we know that there is unsecured nuclear material across the globe. To protect our people, we must act with a sense of purpose without delay.
So today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.
We must also build on our efforts to break up black markets, detect and intercept materials in transit, and use financial tools to disrupt this dangerous trade. Because this threat will be lasting, we should come together to turn efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism into durable international institutions. And we should start by having a Global Summit on Nuclear Security that the United States will host within the next year. (Applause.)
Now, I know that there are some who will question whether we can act on such a broad agenda. There are those who doubt whether true international cooperation is possible, given inevitable differences among nations. And there are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it's worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve.
But make no mistake: We know where that road leads. When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp. We know the path when we choose fear over hope. To denounce or shrug off a call for cooperation is an easy but also a cowardly thing to do. That's how wars begin. That's where human progress ends.
There is violence and injustice in our world that must be confronted. We must confront it not by splitting apart but by standing together as free nations, as free people. (Applause.) I know that a call to arms can stir the souls of men and women more than a call to lay them down. But that is why the voices for peace and progress must be raised together. (Applause.)
Those are the voices that still echo through the streets of Prague. Those are the ghosts of 1968. Those were the joyful sounds of the Velvet Revolution. Those were the Czechs who helped bring down a nuclear-armed empire without firing a shot.
Human destiny will be what we make of it. And here in Prague, let us honor our past by reaching for a better future. Let us bridge our divisions, build upon our hopes, accept our responsibility to leave this world more prosperous and more peaceful than we found it. (Applause.) Together we can do it.
Thank you very much. Thank you, Prague. (Applause.)
ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS United States Capitol
THE PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States -- (applause) -- she'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. 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. (Applause.) 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. (Applause.) 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 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. (Applause.) 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 jumpstart 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. (Applause.) As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President's Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't. Not because I'm not mindful of the massive debt we've inherited -- I am. I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardship. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. And that's why I pushed for quick action. And tonight, I am grateful that this Congress delivered, and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law. (Applause.) Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector -- jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit. Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make. (Applause.) Because of this plan, 95 percent of working households in America will receive a tax cut -- a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1st. (Applause.) Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college. And Americans -- (applause) -- and Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm. (Applause.) Now, I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. And I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we've all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right. And that's why I've asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort -- because nobody messes with Joe. (Applause.) I -- isn't that right? They don't mess with you. I have told each of my Cabinet, as well as mayors and governors across the country, that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend. I've appointed a proven and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new website called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent. So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track. But it is just the first step. Because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system. I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family's well-being. You should also know that the money you've deposited in banks across the country is safe; your insurance is secure; you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That's not the source of concern. The concern is that if we do not restart lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins. You see -- (applause) -- you see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education, how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll. But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. And with so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or even to each other. And when there is no lending, families can't afford to buy homes or cars. So businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further. That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, to restore confidence, and restart lending. And we will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running. (Applause.) Second -- second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages. It's a plan that won't help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values -- Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped to bring about. In fact, the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage. (Applause.) Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy. I understand that on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives bank bailouts with no strings attached, and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions. But such an approach won't solve the problem. And our goal is to quicken the day when we restart lending to the American people and American business, and end this crisis once and for all. And I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. (Applause.) This time -- this time, CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks, or buy fancy drapes, or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over. (Applause.) Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government -- and, yes, probably more than we've already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade. That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen. (Applause.) Now, I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and the results that followed. So were the American taxpayers. So was I. So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you -- I get it. But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. (Applause.) My job -- our job -- is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not send -- I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can't pay its workers, or the family that has saved and still can't get a mortgage. (Applause.) That's what this is about. It's not about helping banks -- it's about helping people. (Applause.) It's not about helping banks; it's about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend. And if they can get a loan, too, maybe they'll finally buy that car, or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover. (Applause.) So I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary. Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. (Applause.) It is time -- it is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes short-cuts and abuse. The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we're taking to revive our economy in the short term. But the only way to fully restore America's economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren't preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility. In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we've come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America -- as a blueprint for our future. My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we've inherited -- a trillion-dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession. Given these realities, everyone in this chamber -- Democrats and Republicans -- will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me. But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity. For history tells a different story. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle class in history. (Applause.) And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world. In each case, government didn't supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive. We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on programs we don't need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education. (Applause.) It begins with energy. We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy-efficient. We invented solar technology, but we've fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea. Well, I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders -- and I know you don't, either. It is time for America to lead again. (Applause.) Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We've also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history -- an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine and science and technology. We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills. But to truly transform our economy, to protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. That's what we need. (Applause.) And to support -- to support that innovation, we will invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power, advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more efficient cars and trucks built right here in America. (Applause.) Speaking of our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a retooled, reimagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it. (Applause.) None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don't do what's easy. We do what's necessary to move this country forward. And for that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care. This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, 1 million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it's one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget. Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. We can't afford to do it. It's time. (Applause.) Already, we've done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last 30 days than we've done in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full-time. (Applause.) Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American, including me, by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. (Applause.) And -- and it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that's one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control. This budget builds on these reforms. It includes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform -- a down payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. (Applause.) It's a commitment -- it's a commitment that's paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it's a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come. Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that's why I'm bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week. I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. Once again, it will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and our conscience long enough. So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year. (Applause.) The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America. In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity -- it is a prerequisite. Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish. This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education -- from the day they are born to the day they begin a career. (Applause.) That is a promise we have to make to the children of America. (Applause.) Already, we've made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We've dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We've made college affordable for nearly seven million more students -- seven million. (Applause.) And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children's progress. But we know that our schools don't just need more resources. They need more reform. (Applause.) That is why this budget creates new teachers -- new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We'll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools. (Applause.) It is our responsibility as lawmakers and as educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. So tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country -- and this country needs and values the talents of every American. (Applause.) That's why we will support -- we will provide the support necessary for all young Americans to complete college and meet a new goal: By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That's is a goal we can meet. (Applause.) That's a goal we can meet. Now, I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. (Applause.) And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch, as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country -- Senator Edward Kennedy. (Applause.) These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent -- for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child. (Applause.) I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That's an American issue. (Applause.) There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children. And that's the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. (Applause.) That is critical. I agree, absolutely. See, I know we can get some consensus in here. (Laughter.) With the deficit we inherited, the cost -- (applause) -- the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down. That is critical. (Applause.) Now, I'm proud that we passed a recovery plan free of earmarks -- (applause) -- and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities. And yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade. (Applause.) In this budget -- in this budget, we will end education programs that don't work and end direct payments to large agribusiness that don't need them. (Applause.) We'll eliminate -- we'll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq -- (applause) -- and reform -- and -- and reform our defense budget so that we're not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use. (Applause.) We will -- we will root out -- we will root out the waste and fraud and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn't make our seniors any healthier. We will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas. (Applause.) In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. (Applause.) Now, let me be clear -- let me be absolutely clear, because I know you'll end up hearing some of the same claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: If your family earns less than $250,000 a year -- a quarter million dollars a year -- you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: Not one single dime. (Applause.) Not a dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut -- that's right, a tax cut -- for 95 percent of working families. And by the way, these checks are on the way. (Applause.) Now, to preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans. (Applause.) Finally, because we're also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead 10 years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules -- and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Applause.) For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price. (Applause.) Along with our outstanding national security team, I'm now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war. (Applause.) And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world. We will not allow it. (Applause.) As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: We honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support. (Applause.) To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned. (Applause.) To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend -- because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. And that is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists. (Applause.) Because living our values doesn't make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. (Applause.) And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture. We can make that commitment here tonight. (Applause.) In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand. To seek progress towards a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century -- from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty -- we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power. And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us having a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world's. As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us -- watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead. Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege -- one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill. I know that it's easy to lose sight of this truth -- to become cynical and doubtful; consumed with the petty and the trivial. But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary. I think of Leonard Abess, a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn't tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, "I knew some of these people since I was seven years old. It didn't feel right getting the money myself." (Applause.) I think about -- I think about Greensburg -- Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community -- how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. "The tragedy was terrible," said one of the men who helped them rebuild. "But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity." I think about Ty'Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina -- a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She had been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this chamber. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters." That's what she said. We are not quitters. Applause.) These words -- these words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity. Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us. (Applause.) I know -- look, I know that we haven't agreed on every issue thus far -- (laughter.) There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. I know that. (Applause.) That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground. And if we do -- if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, "something worthy to be remembered." Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)