This week, I joined leaders from around the world at the United Nations and the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. Today, I can report on what we achieved—a new commitment to meet common challenges, and real progress in advancing America’s national security and economic prosperity.
As I said at the U.N., over the past nine months my administration has renewed American leadership, and pursued a new era of engagement in which we call upon all nations to live up to their responsibilities. This week, our engagement produced tangible results in several areas.
In Pittsburgh, the world’s major economies agreed to continue our effort to spur global demand to put our people back to work. We committed ourselves to economic growth that is balanced and sustained— so that we avoid the booms and busts of the past. We reached an historic agreement to reform the global financial system—to promote responsibility and prevent abuse so that we never face a crisis like this again. And we reformed our international economic architecture, so that we can better coordinate our effort to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
We also established American leadership in the global pursuit of the clean energy of the 21st century. I am proud that the G-20 nations agreed to phase out $300 billion worth of fossil fuel subsidies. This will increase our energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat the threat of climate change, and help create the new jobs and industries of the future.
In New York, we advanced the cause of peace and security. I joined the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in nearly a year—a meeting that even nine months ago did not seem possible. And we resolved to move forward in the journey toward a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
We also took unprecedented steps to secure loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to seek a world without them. As the first U.S. president to ever chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, I was proud that the Council passed an historic and unanimous resolution embracing the comprehensive strategy I outlined this year in Prague.
To prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, the Security Council endorsed our global effort to lock down all vulnerable material within four years. We reaffirmed the basic compact of the global nonproliferation regime: all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; nations with nuclear weapons have the responsibility to move toward disarmament; and nations without them have the responsibility to forsake them.
The United States is meeting our responsibilities by pursuing an agreement with Russia to reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. And just as we meet our responsibilities, so must other nations, including Iran and North Korea.
Earlier this year, we imposed tough, new, sanctions on North Korea to stop their efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. And we will continue to stand with our allies and partners to press North Korea to move in a new direction.
This week, we joined with the United Kingdom and France in presenting evidence that Iran has been building a secret nuclear facility to enrich uranium. This is a serious challenge to the global nonproliferation regime, and continues a disturbing pattern of Iranian evasion. That is why international negotiations with Iran scheduled for October 1st now take on added urgency.
My offer of a serious, meaningful dialogue to resolve this issue remains open. But Iran must now cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and take action to demonstrate its peaceful intentions.
On this, the international community is more united than ever before. Yesterday, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our European allies in condemning Iran’s program. In our meetings and public statements, President Medvedev of Russia and I agreed that Iran must pursue a new course or face consequences. All of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany, have made it clear that Iran must fulfill its responsibilities.
Iran’s leaders must now choose – they can live up to their responsibilities and achieve integration with the community of nations. Or they will face increased pressure and isolation, and deny opportunity to their own people.
These are the urgent threats of our time. And the United States is committed to a new chapter of international cooperation to meet them. This new chapter will not be written in one week or even one year. But we have begun. And for the American people and the people of the world, it will mean greater security and prosperity for years to come. （７５７語） 塗りつぶした結果は次の通り↓↓↓
まず英語の原文↓↓↓ TOEIC: Where does the money go? Nonprofit IIBC takes in \8-9 billion annually from English test fees
By JAMES McCROSTIE In a country of test-takers, the Test of English for International Communication has become one of Japan's most recognized exams. In 2008, people in Japan paid \4,040 — or slightly less if their company or school paid a \100,000 membership fee — to take the TOEIC Institutional Program (IP) at their company or school 940,000 times. A further 778,000 test-takers paid \6,615 to take the TOEIC Secure Program, offered at official test centers at fixed times. Despite the test's fame and the large sums involved, where the approximately \8-9 billion in test-taker fees end up remains relatively unknown.
People paid these fees to the Institute for International Business Communication, a nonprofit public-interest corporation with 156 employees that operates under the authority of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
One of the IIBC's biggest expenses is paying royalties to Educational Testing Service, the American testing organization that writes and owns the content of the TOEIC tests. No one working for IIBC or ETS would reveal the royalty fee for a single exam, but in fiscal 2007 testing royalties totaled a little over \800 million. For fiscal 2008, the IIBC budgeted to spend almost double that amount — over \1.5 billion — on royalties. IIBC spokespeople declined to provide an explanation for the sudden increase.
Test-takers paying for the standard listening and reading exam also subsidize the less popular TOEIC tests. TOEIC-brand interview and French tests together lost more than \32 million in fiscal 2007.
The newly established computer-based TOEIC Speaking and Writing test, taken 4,200 times in 2008, is IIBC's biggest money-loser. According to their fiscal 2008 budget, the IIBC planned on taking in \78.8 million in fees and spending \664 million on administration costs, not including ETS royalty fees. IIBC spokespeople were unwilling to comment on these high costs.
Despite these and other expenses such as a utility bill that increased from \950,000 in 2007 to a planned \4.84 million in 2008, and more than \13 million spent annually on research into adapting to Chinese culture, Japanese students of English can sleep easy knowing the IIBC isn't in any financial danger. While established to serve the public interest rather than generate profits, the IIBC remains comfortably in the black. In fiscal 2007, the IIBC had a surplus on its balance sheet of \130 million. For fiscal 2008, the IIBC estimated its surplus would be just under \100 million.
According to Christopher Gunson, an international transaction attorney with experience in structuring nonprofit entities in Japan, because public-interest corporations have no shareholders to distribute surpluses to, they face the dilemma of how these surpluses can be used. "There is no clear standard" when it comes to how much money a public interest corporation is allowed to make. The issue is not the amount of money but how it was made and how it is used, Gunson explained.
The IIBC seems to be saving for a rainy day. At the end of fiscal 2007, the nonprofit had \1.49 billion in cash on hand, and savings accounts as well as government bonds, time deposits and investment securities worth \210 million. All together, the IIBC had assets worth \3.37 billion. Minus liabilities, the IIBC remains in the black to the tune of \1.9 billion.
These figures don't show all the money being made. Companies have been profiting from the TOEIC from its earliest days. Yasuo Kitaoka, the idea man behind the test and IIBC vice chairman from 1986 to 1997, also worked as representative director of his company International Communications Inc. It ran the TOEIC fan club, published its magazine and started TOEIC's online application system. After a name change to T.F. Communications in 2003, the company was shut down in 2004 and control of its subsidiaries transferred to another for-profit called International Communications School.
ICS is a company with close ties to the IIBC. ICS and the IIBC have their offices in the same building. Stepping out of the elevator and into their shared 9th-floor lobby, ICS' door is to the left of the security guard and the IIBC's door is to his right.
The IIBC and ICS also share personnel. The new chairman of the IIBC's board of directors, Takayuki Murofushi, was a member of ICS' board of directors until 2008, when he replaced the retiring 89-year-old Sadayoshi Sakata at the IIBC.
IIBC Chairman Yaeji Watanabe has had a long relationship with Murofushi's mother. Watanabe's blog and memoirs discuss working with Jukan Murofushi to increase the popularity of Chinese poetry. The IIBC even supported the Chinese Poetry Recitation Association where Jukan Murofushi worked as a teacher. Starting in 1989, the IIBC sponsored the group's Chinese poetry appreciation meetings both in Japan and other countries. In 2008, the IIBC removed links to the association from its Web site but it is unclear whether it still sponsors the group.
ICS seems to exist primarily off the TOEIC. Atsuko Yoshida, IIBC's public relations manager, says the ICS is mainly "responsible for promotion and sales" of the TOEIC IP. ICS sales staff work for one of two divisions selling the TOEIC IP to either businesses or schools.
"International Communications School was established purely for the purpose of promoting TOEIC business," said Yoshida, who declined to speculate on why IIBC needed a for-profit partner to promote the test. "We of course have contracts between the IIBC and ICS," added Yoshida, explaining how ICS generates revenue. "They don't do promotions voluntarily. So that is how you can imagine they are making money by selling TOEIC."
ICS makes money from the TOEIC in other ways as well. It acts as the publishing company for TOEIC preparation textbooks prepared by the IIBC and owns subsidiaries with their own TOEIC business connections.
ICS is the largest shareholder of a company called E-Communications Inc., which specializes in computer-based testing and data-processing services. Its office and 30 employees are located down the hall from ICS.
According to its Web site, E-Communications' primary clients include the IIBC and ICS. E-Communications manages the Japanese online application system for TOEIC tests. It also offers an online program called Challenge for the TOEIC Test, which recycles questions from the old fan club magazine. In the past, it offered web-based practice lessons for the TOEIC speaking test.
E-Communications was established in 2000 as a subsidiary of International Communications Inc. After the latter was shut down, ownership of E-Communications and Odyssey Communications, a company that supervises the Microsoft Office Specialist exam in Japan, was transferred to ICS.
ICS Representative Director Hisao Noguchi also sits on E-Communications' board of directors. The board members (Representative Director Shinya Sato, Noguchi and a third member) were paid a total of \33 million for their services last year.
The ownership of International Communications School is unclear. When pressed on this issue, ICS spokesperson Hirosuke Matsumoto declined to comment.
To comply with the law, the IIBC provides two years of financial statements on their Web site, but it's impossible to track the movement of money between the IIBC and both ICS and E-Communications. Financial reports on E-Communications' Web site indicate it made a net profit just under \30 million in the period May 2007 to April 2008 and had net assets worth \238 million.
When asked what public-interest corporations like the IIBC can do with their surpluses, Susan Carpenter, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh Business School and author of a book about public-interest corporations called "Why Japan Can't Reform: Inside the System," says, "I can suggest that they may transfer their money to another corporation."
IIBC also pays its dues to another public-interest corporation called the Beautiful Aging Association. In addition to his full-time job as IIBC chairman and work as a partner in his law firm, the 92-year-old Watanabe is BAA chairman.
Established by Watanabe and friends in 1992, the BAA operates under METI authority. It organizes activities for member-company retirees including karaoke outings, go tournaments and cooking classes. The association's \17 million budget comes from fees paid by member organizations. Watanabe declined an interview request but the BAA's Web site shows the IIBC and ICS near the top of the list of 41 members.
Money generated by TOEIC fees also appears to pay for an IIBC division called Global Human Resources Development. GHRD gathers information from around the world to help Japanese become better global managers. It circulates this information via the Internet, a magazine and seminars. IIBC's spokespeople were unwilling to say how much money the IIBC provides to GHRD.
Watanabe's IIBC salary is unknown, but financial statements show compensation paid to executives rising last year. IIBC executives received a total of \77.5 million in fiscal 2007, with plans to increase it to \100 million in fiscal 2008. There are at least four executives paid by the IIBC. Its Web site lists four full-time and nine part-time members on its board of directors but, according to Yoshida, the part-time members are unpaid volunteers.
Asked how much money public-interest corporation directors can pay themselves, Gunson says, "There's no clear standard as to how much director compensation is too much. These institutions are designated as non-profit, and the authorities may begin to scrutinize a non-profit's operations if they believe that the directors are profiteering." （１５６２語）
■オバマ大統領の週末演説（２００９年９月１９日）を読んで、『究極の英単語』（アルク発行、全４巻、１万２０００語）か『ＪＡＣＥＴ８０００英単語』（桐原書店発行、８０００語）のどちらかに収録されている英単語は黒い四角で塗りつぶします。 まず英語の原文↓↓↓ Leaders of the world’s largest economies will gather next week in Pittsburgh for the second time this year. The first meeting of the G-20 nations in April came at the height of the global financial crisis – a crisis that required unprecedented international cooperation to jumpstart the world’s economies and help break the downward spiral that enveloped all our nations.
At next week’s summit, we’ll have, in effect, a five-month checkup to review the steps each nation has taken – separately and together – to break the back of this economic crisis. And the good news is that we’ve made real progress since last time we met – here at home and around the world.
In February, we enacted a Recovery Act, providing relief to Americans who need it, preventing layoffs, and putting Americans back to work. We’ve worked to unlock frozen credit markets, spurring lending to Americans looking to buy homes or cars, take out student loans, or finance small businesses. And we’ve challenged other nations to join us not only to spur global demand, but to address the underlying problems that caused such a deep global recession in the first place.
Because of the steps taken by our nation and all nations, we can now say that we have stopped our economic freefall. But we also know that stopping the bleeding isn’t nearly enough. Our work is far from over. We know we still have a lot to do here at home to build an economy that is producing good jobs for all those who are looking for work today. And we know we still have a lot to do, in conjunction with nations around the world, to strengthen the rules governing financial markets and ensure that we never again find ourselves in the precarious situation we found ourselves in just one year ago.
As I told leaders of our financial community in New York City earlier this week, a return to normalcy can’t breed complacency. To protect our economy and people from another market meltdown, our government needs to fundamentally reform the rules governing financial firms and markets to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We cannot allow the thirst for reckless schemes that produce quick profits and fat executive bonuses to override the security of our entire financial system and leave taxpayers on the hook for cleaning up the mess. And as the world’s largest economy, we must lead, not just by word, but by example, understanding that in the 21st century, financial crises know no borders. All of us need to act more responsibly on behalf of a better economic future.
That is why, at next week’s G20 summit, we’ll discuss some of the steps that are required to safeguard our global financial system and close gaps in regulation around the world – gaps that permitted the kinds of reckless risk-taking and irresponsibility that led to the crisis. And that’s why I’ve called on Congress to put in place a series of tough, common-sense rules of the road that will protect consumers from abuse, let markets function fairly and freely, and help prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.
Central to these reforms is a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Part of what led to this crisis were not just decisions made on Wall Street, but also unsustainable mortgage loans made across the country. While many folks took on more than they knew they could afford, too often folks signed contracts they didn’t fully understand offered by lenders who didn’t always tell the truth. That’s why we need clear rules, clearly enforced. And that’s what this agency will do.
Consumers shouldn’t have to worry about loan contracts written to confuse, hidden fees attached to their mortgages, and financial penalties – whether through a credit card or debit card – that appear without a clear warning on their statements. And responsible lenders, including community banks, trying to do the right thing shouldn’t have to worry about ruinous competition from unregulated and unscrupulous competitors.
Not surprisingly, lobbyists for big Wall Street banks are hard at work trying to stop reforms that would hold them accountable and they want to keep things just the way they are. But we cannot let politics as usual triumph so business as usual can reign. We cannot let the narrow interests of a few come before the interests of all of us. We cannot forget how close we came to the brink, and perpetuate the broken system and breakdown of responsibility that made it possible.
In the weeks and months ahead, we have an opportunity to build on the work we’ve already done. An opportunity to rebuild our global economy stronger that before. An opportunity not only to protect the American people and America’s economy, but to promote sustained and balanced growth and prosperity for our nation and all nations. And that’s an opportunity I am determined to seize.
So, thanks for listening and thanks for watching, and to our Jewish friends, who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, have a happy and healthy New Year. Shanah Tovah. （８３７語）
まず英語の原文↓↓↓ On Wednesday, I addressed a joint session of Congress and the American people about why we need health insurance reform and what it will take to do it.
Since then, I’ve continued to hear from many Americans across the country about why this is so urgent and important.
I’ve heard from Americans who can’t get health coverage; men and women who worry that one accident or illness could drive them into bankruptcy.
And I’ve heard from Americans with insurance who thought that "the uninsured" always referred to someone else – but between skyrocketing costs and insurance company practices; they’re beginning to worry that they could find themselves uninsured too.
It’s an anxiety that’s keeping more and more Americans awake at night. Over the last twelve months, nearly six million more Americans lost their health coverage – that’s 17,000 men and women every single day. We’re not just talking about Americans in poverty, either – we’re talking about middle-class Americans. In other words, it can happen to anyone.
And based on a brand-new report from the Treasury Department, we can expect that about half of all Americans under 65 will lose their health coverage at some point over the next ten years. If you’re under the age of 21 today, chances are more than half that you’ll find yourself uninsured at some point in that time. And more than one-third of Americans will go without coverage for longer than one year.
I refuse to allow that future to happen. In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they’ll go without health insurance – not for one year, not for one month, not for one day. And once I sign my health reform plan into law – they won’t.
My plan will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance; offer quality, affordable choices to those who currently don’t; and bring health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government under control.
First of all, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in my plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.
What my plan will do is make the insurance you have work better for you. We’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition, drop your coverage when you get sick, or water it down when you need it most. They’ll no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or over a lifetime, and we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses – because no one should go broke just because they get sick.
Second, if you’re one of the more than thirty million American citizens who can’t get coverage, you’ll finally have quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job, change your job, or start your own business, you will be able to get coverage.
And as I have said over and over again, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – period. This plan will be paid for. The middle-class will realize greater security, not higher taxes. And if we can successfully slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.
Affordable, quality care within reach for the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it today. Stability and security for the hundreds of millions who do. That’s the reform we seek.
We have had a long and important debate. But now is the time for action. Because every day we wait, more Americans will lose their health care, their businesses, and their homes – but also the dreams they’ve worked for and the peace of mind they deserve. They are why we have to succeed.
So if you’re willing to put country before party and the interests of our children above our own; if you refuse to settle for a politics where scoring points is more important than solving problems; and if you believe, as I do, that America can still come together to do great things – then join us. Give us your help. And we will finally get health insurance reform done this year. （７３４語）
Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, and the American people:
When I spoke here last winter, this nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month. Credit was frozen. And our financial system was on the verge of collapse.
As any American who is still looking for work or a way to pay their bills will tell you, we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is still many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them -- (applause) -- until those businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes. That is our ultimate goal. But thanks to the bold and decisive action we've taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink. (Applause.)
I want to thank the members of this body for your efforts and your support in these last several months, and especially those who've taken the difficult votes that have put us on a path to recovery. I also want to thank the American people for their patience and resolve during this trying time for our nation.
But we did not come here just to clean up crises. We came here to build a future. (Applause.) So tonight, I return to speak to all of you about an issue that is central to that future -- and that is the issue of health care.
I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. (Applause.) It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session. (Applause.)
Our collective failure to meet this challenge -- year after year, decade after decade -- has led us to the breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can't get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can't afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or too expensive to cover.
We are the only democracy -- the only advanced democracy on Earth -- the only wealthy nation -- that allows such hardship for millions of its people. There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two-year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.
But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem for the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you'll lose your health insurance too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won't pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.
One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it. Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne. By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer had more than doubled in size. That is heart-breaking, it is wrong, and no one should be treated that way in the United States of America. (Applause.)
Then there's the problem of rising cost. We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it. This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages. It's why so many employers -- especially small businesses -- are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance, or are dropping their coverage entirely. It's why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally -- like our automakers -- are at a huge disadvantage. And it's why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it -- about $1,000 per year that pays for somebody else's emergency room and charitable care.
Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else. (Applause.)
Now, these are the facts. Nobody disputes them. We know we must reform this system. The question is how.
There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada's -- (applause) -- where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everybody. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.
I've said -- I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both these approaches. But either one would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have. Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn't, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch. (Applause.) And that is precisely what those of you in Congress have tried to do over the past several months.
During that time, we've seen Washington at its best and at its worst.
We've seen many in this chamber work tirelessly for the better part of this year to offer thoughtful ideas about how to achieve reform. Of the five committees asked to develop bills, four have completed their work, and the Senate Finance Committee announced today that it will move forward next week. That has never happened before. Our overall efforts have been supported by an unprecedented coalition of doctors and nurses; hospitals, seniors' groups, and even drug companies -- many of whom opposed reform in the past. And there is agreement in this chamber on about 80 percent of what needs to be done, putting us closer to the goal of reform than we have ever been.
But what we've also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have towards their own government. Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.
Well, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. (Applause.) Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care. Now is the time to deliver on health care.
The plan I'm announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don't. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. (Applause.) It's a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge -- not just government, not just insurance companies, but everybody including employers and individuals. And it's a plan that incorporates ideas from senators and congressmen, from Democrats and Republicans -- and yes, from some of my opponents in both the primary and general election.
Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan. First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. (Applause.) Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.
What this plan will do is make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. (Applause.) As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it the most. (Applause.) They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime. (Applause.) We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. (Applause.) And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies -- (applause) -- because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives. (Applause.)
Now, that's what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan -- more security and more stability.
Now, if you're one of the tens of millions of Americans who don't currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. (Applause.) If you lose your job or you change your job, you'll be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you'll be able to get coverage. We'll do this by creating a new insurance exchange -- a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It's how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it's time to give every American the same opportunity that we give ourselves. (Applause.)
Now, for those individuals and small businesses who still can't afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange, we'll provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on your need. And all insurance companies that want access to this new marketplace will have to abide by the consumer protections I already mentioned. This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right. In the meantime, for those Americans who can't get insurance today because they have preexisting medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill. (Applause.) This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it's a good idea now, and we should all embrace it. (Applause.)
Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those -- especially the young and the healthy -- who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers by giving them coverage. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for these people's expensive emergency room visits. If some businesses don't provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek -- especially requiring insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions -- just can't be achieved.
And that's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance -- just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. (Applause.) Likewise -- likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still can't afford coverage, and 95 percent of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements. (Applause.) But we can't have large businesses and individuals who can afford coverage game the system by avoiding responsibility to themselves or their employees. Improving our health care system only works if everybody does their part.
And while there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe -- (laughter) -- I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined: consumer protections for those with insurance, an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance.
And I have no doubt that these reforms would greatly benefit Americans from all walks of life, as well as the economy as a whole. Still, given all the misinformation that's been spread over the past few months, I realize -- (applause) -- I realize that many Americans have grown nervous about reform. So tonight I want to address some of the key controversies that are still out there.
Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple. (Applause.)
There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You lie! (Boos.)
THE PRESIDENT: It's not true. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up -- under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place. (Applause.)
Now, my health care proposal has also been attacked by some who oppose reform as a "government takeover" of the entire health care system. As proof, critics point to a provision in our plan that allows the uninsured and small businesses to choose a publicly sponsored insurance option, administered by the government just like Medicaid or Medicare. (Applause.)
So let me set the record straight here. My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. That's how the market works. (Applause.) Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company. And without competition, the price of insurance goes up and quality goes down. And it makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly -- by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest, by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage, and by jacking up rates.
Insurance executives don't do this because they're bad people; they do it because it's profitable. As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill, they are rewarded for it. All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called "Wall Street's relentless profit expectations."
Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable. (Applause.) And the insurance reforms that I've already mentioned would do just that. But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. (Applause.) Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. It would only be an option for those who don't have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up.
Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don't like this idea. They argue that these private companies can't fairly compete with the government. And they'd be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they won't be. I've insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects. But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits and excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers, and would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities. (Applause.)
Now, it is -- it's worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I've proposed tonight. But its impact shouldn't be exaggerated -- by the left or the right or the media. It is only one part of my plan, and shouldn't be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles. To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage available for those without it. (Applause.) The public option -- the public option is only a means to that end -- and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have. (Applause.)
For example -- for example, some have suggested that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others have proposed a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. (Applause.) And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. (Applause.)
Finally, let me discuss an issue that is a great concern to me, to members of this chamber, and to the public -- and that's how we pay for this plan.
And here's what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits -- either now or in the future. (Applause.) I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period. And to prove that I'm serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don't materialize. (Applause.) Now, part of the reason I faced a trillion-dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for -- from the Iraq war to tax breaks for the wealthy. (Applause.) I will not make that same mistake with health care.
Second, we've estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system, a system that is currently full of waste and abuse. Right now, too much of the hard-earned savings and tax dollars we spend on health care don't make us any healthier. That's not my judgment -- it's the judgment of medical professionals across this country. And this is also true when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid.
In fact, I want to speak directly to seniors for a moment, because Medicare is another issue that's been subjected to demagoguery and distortion during the course of this debate.
More than four decades ago, this nation stood up for the principle that after a lifetime of hard work, our seniors should not be left to struggle with a pile of medical bills in their later years. That's how Medicare was born. And it remains a sacred trust that must be passed down from one generation to the next. (Applause.) And that is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan. (Applause.)
The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies -- subsidies that do everything to pad their profits but don't improve the care of seniors. And we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead. (Applause.)
Now, these steps will ensure that you -- America's seniors -- get the benefits you've been promised. They will ensure that Medicare is there for future generations. And we can use some of the savings to fill the gap in coverage that forces too many seniors to pay thousands of dollars a year out of their own pockets for prescription drugs. (Applause.) That's what this plan will do for you. So don't pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut, especially since some of the same folks who are spreading these tall tales have fought against Medicare in the past and just this year supported a budget that would essentially have turned Medicare into a privatized voucher program. That will not happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare. (Applause.)
Now, because Medicare is such a big part of the health care system, making the program more efficient can help usher in changes in the way we deliver health care that can reduce costs for everybody. We have long known that some places -- like the Intermountain Healthcare in Utah or the Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania -- offer high-quality care at costs below average. So the commission can help encourage the adoption of these common-sense best practices by doctors and medical professionals throughout the system -- everything from reducing hospital infection rates to encouraging better coordination between teams of doctors.
Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan. (Applause.) Now, much of the rest would be paid for with revenues from the very same drug and insurance companies that stand to benefit from tens of millions of new customers. And this reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies, which will encourage them to provide greater value for the money -- an idea which has the support of Democratic and Republican experts. And according to these same experts, this modest change could help hold down the cost of health care for all of us in the long run.
Now, finally, many in this chamber -- particularly on the Republican side of the aisle -- have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. (Applause.) Now -- there you go. There you go. Now, I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I've talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. (Applause.) So I'm proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. (Applause.) I know that the Bush administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these ideas. I think it's a good idea, and I'm directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today. (Applause.)
Now, add it all up, and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years -- less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration. (Applause.) Now, most of these costs will be paid for with money already being spent -- but spent badly -- in the existing health care system. The plan will not add to our deficit. The middle class will realize greater security, not higher taxes. And if we are able to slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of 1 percent each year -- one-tenth of 1 percent -- it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.
Now, this is the plan I'm proposing. It's a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight -- Democrats and Republicans. And I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.
But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than to improve it. (Applause.) I won't stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what's in this plan, we will call you out. (Applause.) And I will not -- and I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.
Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it the most. And more will die as a result. We know these things to be true.
That is why we cannot fail. Because there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed -- the ones who suffer silently, and the ones who shared their stories with us at town halls, in e-mails, and in letters.
I received one of those letters a few days ago. It was from our beloved friend and colleague, Ted Kennedy. He had written it back in May, shortly after he was told that his illness was terminal. He asked that it be delivered upon his death.
In it, he spoke about what a happy time his last months were, thanks to the love and support of family and friends, his wife, Vicki, his amazing children, who are all here tonight. And he expressed confidence that this would be the year that health care reform -- "that great unfinished business of our society," he called it -- would finally pass. He repeated the truth that health care is decisive for our future prosperity, but he also reminded me that "it concerns more than material things." "What we face," he wrote, "is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."
I've thought about that phrase quite a bit in recent days -- the character of our country. One of the unique and wonderful things about America has always been our self-reliance, our rugged individualism, our fierce defense of freedom and our healthy skepticism of government. And figuring out the appropriate size and role of government has always been a source of rigorous and, yes, sometimes angry debate. That's our history.
For some of Ted Kennedy's critics, his brand of liberalism represented an affront to American liberty. In their minds, his passion for universal health care was nothing more than a passion for big government.
But those of us who knew Teddy and worked with him here -- people of both parties -- know that what drove him was something more. His friend Orrin Hatch -- he knows that. They worked together to provide children with health insurance. His friend John McCain knows that. They worked together on a Patient's Bill of Rights. His friend Chuck Grassley knows that. They worked together to provide health care to children with disabilities.
On issues like these, Ted Kennedy's passion was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience. It was the experience of having two children stricken with cancer. He never forgot the sheer terror and helplessness that any parent feels when a child is badly sick. And he was able to imagine what it must be like for those without insurance, what it would be like to have to say to a wife or a child or an aging parent, there is something that could make you better, but I just can't afford it.
That large-heartedness -- that concern and regard for the plight of others -- is not a partisan feeling. It's not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character -- our ability to stand in other people's shoes; a recognition that we are all in this together, and when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand; a belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgment that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.
This has always been the history of our progress. In 1935, when over half of our seniors could not support themselves and millions had seen their savings wiped away, there were those who argued that Social Security would lead to socialism, but the men and women of Congress stood fast, and we are all the better for it. In 1965, when some argued that Medicare represented a government takeover of health care, members of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- did not back down. They joined together so that all of us could enter our golden years with some basic peace of mind.
You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter -- that at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.
That was true then. It remains true today. I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road -- to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term.
But that is not what the moment calls for. That's not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it's hard. (Applause.) I still believe -- I still believe that we can act when it's hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history's test.
Because that's who we are. That is our calling. That is our character. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. （６０３３語）
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. All right, everybody go ahead and have a seat. How is everybody doing today? (Applause.) How about Tim Spicer? (Applause.) I am here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we've got students tuning in from all across America, from kindergarten through 12th grade. And I am just so glad that all could join us today. And I want to thank Wakefield for being such an outstanding host. Give yourselves a big round of applause. (Applause.)
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it's your first day in a new school, so it's understandable if you're a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now -- (applause) -- with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you're in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer and you could've stayed in bed just a little bit longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived overseas. I lived in Indonesia for a few years. And my mother, she didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school, but she thought it was important for me to keep up with an American education. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday. But because she had to go to work, the only time she could do it was at 4:30 in the morning.
Now, as you might imagine, I wasn't too happy about getting up that early. And a lot of times, I'd fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I'd complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and she'd say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster." (Laughter.)
So I know that some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I'm here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I'm here because I want to talk with you about your education and what's expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now, I've given a lot of speeches about education. And I've talked about responsibility a lot.
I've talked about teachers' responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn.
I've talked about your parents' responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox.
I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working, where students aren't getting the opportunities that they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world -- and none of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools, unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. That's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.
I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a great writer -- maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper -- but you might not know it until you write that English paper -- that English class paper that's assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor -- maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new medicine or vaccine -- but you might not know it until you do your project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice -- but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to train for it and work for it and learn for it.
And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You'll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You'll need the insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that -- if you quit on school -- you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.
Now, I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what it's like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us the things that other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and I felt like I didn't fit in.
So I wasn't always as focused as I should have been on school, and I did some things I'm not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was -- I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, she has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn't have a lot of money. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you, because here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That's what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn't speak English when she first started school. Neither of her parents had gone to college. But she worked hard, earned good grades, and got a scholarship to Brown University -- is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to becoming Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I'm thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who's fought brain cancer since he was three. He's had to endure all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer -- hundreds of extra hours -- to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind. He's headed to college this fall.
And then there's Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods in the city, she managed to get a job at a local health care center, start a program to keep young people out of gangs, and she's on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
And Jazmin, Andoni, and Shantell aren't any different from any of you. They face challenges in their lives just like you do. In some cases they've got it a lot worse off than many of you. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their lives, for their education, and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That's why today I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education -- and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.
The truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject that you study. You won't click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That's okay. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. J.K. Rowling's -- who wrote Harry Potter -- her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understood that you can't let your failures define you -- you have to let your failures teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time. So if you get into trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one's born being good at all things. You become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. The same principle applies to your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right. You might have to read something a few times before you understand it. You definitely have to do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and that then allows you to learn something new. So find an adult that you trust -- a parent, a grandparent or teacher, a coach or a counselor -- and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you, don't ever give up on yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and they founded this nation. Young people. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google and Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask all of you, what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a President who comes here in 20 or 50 or 100 years say about what all of you did for this country?
Now, your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books and the equipment and the computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part, too. So I expect all of you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down. Don't let your family down or your country down. Most of all, don't let yourself down. Make us all proud.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. （２６３４語）