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Weekly speeches: Obama for the Dems, Gregg for the GOP

March 28, 2009 |  3:00 am

Democratic president Barack Obama and Republican Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire

This Saturday, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire gives the GOP's weekly message. He was nominated to be secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration and later withdrew his name.

Hello, I’m Judd Gregg, senator from New Hampshire. We all know these are difficult times. People are worried about keeping their jobs, paying their bills, the value of their homes and the cost of sending their kids to college. It’s hard.

Thus I appreciate, as do all Americans, the efforts being made by our president and his seriousness about addressing these issues.

But what concerns many of us are his proposals in the budget he recently sent to the Congress that dramatically grow the size and cost of government and move it to the left.

It is our opinion that this plan spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much.

You may have heard this before, that the budget of the president spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much.

What do we mean? Well, let me give you a few examples.

In the next five years, President Obama’s budget will double the national debt; in the next ten years it will triple the national debt.

To say this another way, if you take all the debt of our country run up by all of our presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush, the total debt over all those 200-plus years since we started as a nation, it is President Obama’s plan to double that debt in just the first five years that he is in office.

He is also planning to spend more on the government as a percentage of our economy than at any time since World War II.

His budget assumes the deficit will average $1 trillion every year for the next 10 years and will add well over $9 trillion in new debts to our children’s backs.

He also is proposing the largest tax increase in history, much of it aimed at taxing small business people who have been, over the years, the best job creators in our economy. And further, he is proposing a massive new national sales tax on your electric bill. So that every time you turn on a light switch, in your house, you will be hit with a new tax -- and it averages over $3,000 per household.

These are staggering numbers and represent an extraordinary move of our government to the left.

The president, to his credit, is not trying to hide this; in fact, he is very forthright in stating that he believes that by greatly expanding the spending, the taxing and the borrowing of our government, this will lead us to prosperity.

Here, of course, is where we differ. We believe you create prosperity by having an affordable government that pursues its responsibilities without excessive costs, taxes or debt. That it is the individual American who creates prosperity and good jobs, not the government.

We believe that you create energy independence not by sticking Americans with a brand new national sales tax on everyone’s electric bill, but by expanding the production of American energy, such as environmentally sound off-shore drilling, nuclear power, wind, solar while also conserving more.

We also believe you improve everyone’s healthcare not by nationalizing the healthcare system and putting the government between you and your doctor, but by assuring that every American has access to quality health insurance and choices in healthcare.

We believe that you run a sound and affordable government not by running up the national debt to historic levels and unsustainable levels while over-taxing working Americans and spending as if there is no tomorrow, but rather by working on limiting the growth of government in a manner that is affordable not only today but for the next generation through limiting spending and addressing core issues like the cost of entitlements.

Our nation has an exceptional history of one generation passing on to the next generation a more prosperous and stronger country, but that tradition is being put at risk. The dramatic move to the left and the massive increase in the size and cost of the government, proposed by the budget of President Obama, will lead to an immense national debt that not only threatens the value of the dollar and puts at risk our ability to borrow money to run the government.

But it will also place our children at a huge disadvantage as they inherit this debt which will make their chances of success less than those given to us by our parents. It is not right for one generation to do that to another generation.

Rather, we believe that if you properly steward the responsibilities of the government, if you do not spend too much, if you do not tax too much, if you do not borrow too much, we can leave our children a better nation where they will have even greater opportunity for prosperity, peace and freedom.

Thank you for taking the time to listen, and have a great weekend.

Audio of Gregg's remarks is available by clicking here. Video of Gregg's remarks is available by clicking here.

The weekly remarks of President Obama are below:

The White House at dawn

Weekly Remarks by President Obama, March 28, 2009:

Even as we face an economic crisis which demands our constant focus, forces of nature can also intervene in ways that create other crises to which we must respond –- and respond urgently. For the people of North and South Dakota and Minnesota who live along rivers spilling over their banks, this is one such moment.

Rivers and streams throughout the region have flooded or are at risk of flooding. The cities of Fargo and neighboring Moorhead are vulnerable as the waters of the Red River have risen. Thousands of homes and businesses are threatened.

That is why, on Tuesday, I granted a major disaster declaration request for the State of North Dakota and ordered federal support into the region to help state and local officials respond to the flooding. This was followed by an emergency declaration for the State of Minnesota. And we are also keeping close watch on the situation in South Dakota as it develops.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to coordinate the federal response. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is helping to oversee federal efforts and she remains in close contact with state officials. Acting FEMA administrator Nancy Ward has been in the region since yesterday to meet with folks on the ground and survey the area herself.

In addition, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is assisting in the emergency construction of levees. The Coast Guard is aiding in search and rescue efforts while the Department of Defense is helping to move people and supplies. Members of the National Guard have been activated and are on the scene as well.

Hospitals and nursing homes in the area are being evacuated and residents in poor health or with special needs are being transported to higher ground. Teams from the Department of Health and Human Services are aiding in this work. And the Red Cross is in place to provide shelter and supplies for folks in need.

It is also important for residents in these states to remain vigilant in monitoring reports on flood crests and to follow instructions from their state and local leaders in the event that evacuations become necessary.

My administration is working closely with Governors John Hoeven, Mike Rounds and Tim Pawlenty. And I’ve been meeting with Senators Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, and Amy Klobuchar, as well as Congressmen Earl Pomeroy and Collin Peterson, to pledge my support. I will continue to monitor the situation carefully. We will do what must be done to help in concert with state and local agencies and non-profit organizations –- and volunteers who are doing so much to aid the response effort.

For at moments like these, we are reminded of the power of nature to disrupt lives and endanger communities. But we are also reminded of the power of individuals to make a difference.

In the Fargodome, thousands of people gathered not to watch a football game or a rodeo, but to fill sandbags. Volunteers filled 2.5 million of them in just five days, working against the clock, day and night, with tired arms and aching backs. Others braved freezing temperatures, gusting winds, and falling snow to build levees along the river’s banks to help protect against waters that have exceeded record levels.

College students have traveled by the busload from nearby campuses to lend a hand during their spring breaks. Students from local high schools asked if they could take time to participate. Young people have turned social networks into community networks, coordinating with one another online to figure out how best to help.

In the face of an incredible challenge, the people of these communities have rallied in support of one another. And their service isn’t just inspirational –- it’s integral to our response.

It’s also a reminder of what we can achieve when Americans come together to serve their communities. All across the nation, there are men, women and young people who have answered that call, and millions of other who would like to. Whether it’s helping to reduce the energy we use, cleaning up a neighborhood park, tutoring in a local school, or volunteering in countless other ways, individual citizens can make a big difference.

That is why I’m so happy that legislation passed the Senate this week and the House last week to provide more opportunities for Americans to serve their communities and the country.

The bipartisan Senate bill was sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Ted Kennedy, a leader who embodies the spirit of public service, and I am looking forward to signing this important measure into law.

In facing sudden crises or more stubborn challenges, the truth is we are all in this together – as neighbors and fellow citizens. That is what brought so many to help in North Dakota and Minnesota and other areas affected by this flooding. That is what draws people to volunteer in so many ways, serving our country here and on distant shores.

Our thanks go to them today, and to all who are working day and night to deal with the disaster.  We send them our thoughts, our prayers, and our continued assistance in this difficult time. Thank you. 

Audio of the president's remarks is available by clicking here. Video of the president's remarks is available by clicking here.

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Photo: EPA (Obama and Gregg); Ron Edmonds / Associated Press.

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