Obama: ‘Medicare and Medicaid … Strengthen Us’

Video: In his second inaugural speech Monday, President Barack Obama discussed the need to reduce health costs, but also defended the importance of Medicare and Medicaid.

A transcript follows.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
 
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative. They strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks that make this country great.