In the opening of his speech today at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the President met critics head on who complain of too much change, too fast:
Every so often, throughout our history, a generation of Americans bears the responsibility of seeing this country through difficult times and protecting the dream of its founding for posterity. This is a responsibility that has fallen to our generation. Meeting it will require steering our nation’s economy through a crisis unlike any we have seen in our time. In the short-term, that means jumpstarting job creation, re-starting lending, and restoring confidence in our markets and our financial system. But it also means taking steps that not only advance our recovery, but lay the foundation for lasting, shared prosperity.
I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. They forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad, passed the Homestead Act, and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of Civil War. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war. President Kennedy didn’t have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don’t have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.
The President explained why, on education in particular, we cannot afford to wait, noting that even within a few years America will see a different reality: “By 2016, four out of every ten new jobs will require at least some advanced education or training.”
The President pledged to end pointless partisan finger-pointing, and to ensure that new investments also came with new reforms. He pointed to deep commitments both in the recovery act and his budget proposal, while also telling the audience that “It is time to start rewarding good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones.”