“The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and 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.”
—President Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress, February 24, 2009 —
The foundation of American leadership must be a prosperous American economy. And a growing and open global economy serves as a source of opportunity for the American people and a source of strength for the United States. The free flow of information, people, goods, and services has also advanced peace among nations, as those places that have emerged more prosperous are often more stable. Yet we have also seen how shocks to the global economy can precipitate disaster—including the loss of jobs, a decline in standards of living in parts of our country, and instability and a loss of U.S. influence abroad. Meanwhile, growing prosperity around the world has made economic power more diffuse, creating a more competitive environment for America’s people and businesses.
To allow each American to pursue the opportunity upon which our prosperity depends, we must build a stronger foundation for economic growth. That foundation must include access to a complete and competitive education for every American; a transformation of the way that we produce and use energy, so that we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and lead the world in creating new jobs and industry; access to quality, affordable health care so our people, businesses, and government are not constrained by rising costs; and the responsible management of our Federal budget so that we balance our priorities and are not burdened by debt. To succeed, we must also ensure that America stays on the cutting edge of the science and innovation that supports our prosperity, defense, and international technological leadership.
This new foundation must underpin and sustain an international economic system that is critical to both our prosperity and to the peace and security of the world. We must reinvigorate and fortify it for the 21st century: by preventing cycles of boom and bust with new rules of the road at home and abroad; by saving more and spending less; by resisting protectionism and promoting trade that is free and fair; by coordinating our actions with other countries, and reforming international institutions to give emerging economies a greater voice and greater responsibility; and by supporting development that promotes good governance, unleashes the potential of different populations, and creates new markets overseas. Taken together, these actions can ensure inclusive growth that is balanced and sustained.