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.
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 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.
I understand that on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives banks 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 re-start lending to the American people and American business and end this crisis once and for all.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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 -- because living our values doesn't make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.
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 is 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 know that we haven't agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. 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.