And one of the things that I heard repeatedly, and some of the folks who are already driving some of these cars will tell you that -- or these trucks -- will tell you, and that is making sure that we’ve got stations, charging stations, if we’re talking about electric vehicles; making sure that we’ve got fueling stations if we’re talking about natural gas conversion（转变） . That’s critical. And we don’t have the distribution platforms right now. That’s something that we’ve really got to work on.
Meanwhile, we’re also investing in the advanced batteries that can power these electric vehicles -- investments that are already making a difference. You know, a couple of years ago, America produced less than 2 percent of the world’s advanced batteries. These are the batteries that go into these hybrids（杂交，混血） and these electric cars. We produce less than 2 percent of them. Over the last few years, we’ve made investments in a homegrown American advanced battery industry. And partly because of the investments that we’ve made, we’re going to be able to produce 40 percent of the world’s advanced batteries. So we’ve helped jumpstart（安装，引进） a big new industry right here in the United States of America, and that’s a smart investment. (Applause.)
So that’s the kind of partnership between business and government that’s always made our economy strong, and I think there’s a lesson in that. It’s not the role of government to be the engine of innovation and prosperity in America. That’s the job of entrepreneurs and executives and the outstanding workers of the companies that are represented here. You’re the ones who are really making innovation happen. But government does have the ability to spark innovation, to support the research, the scientific discovery, that has always led to breakthroughs and new products. And it’s in our national interest to make these investments.
For example, we were just talking about some of these trucks -- there is still work to be done to make the fueling faster, to bring down the price. And all of those things require some innovation and some new technologies so that in the end it’s not only as cheap to run a truck like this, or purchase a truck like this, but it’s cheaper than a traditional engine. There’s going to be more work to do on this, and historically individual companies may not be able to make all those investments on their own. Government has to make those investments.
Now, this is tougher to do in light of the deficit that I inherited when I took office. We’re all concerned about our debt. We’re all concerned about our deficit. And that’s why I’ve proposed some deep cuts in spending so we can live within our means and focus the -- on the investments that are most likely to help grow our economy and create jobs -– investments in education, investments in our infrastructure, investments in research and development, investments in clean energy technologies of the kind that I’ve talked about today. We’ve got to make those investments; otherwise we’re going to fall behind other countries. China is making those investments. Germany is making those investments. South Korea is making those investments. We can’t afford to fall behind.
So the key issue here is how do we pay for all this at a time when we’ve also got to shrink（收缩） the deficit. Well, that means we’ve got to make some tough choices. We got to stop spending on things that we don't need to spend on things that we do. And right now, there’s a debate about all this going on in Washington as Congress puts together a budget for this year, and then we’re going to have to put together a budget for next year.
So far, after a few weeks of negotiations between Democrats, Republicans, and my team at the White House, it appears that we’re getting close to an agreement between the leaders of both parties on how much spending we should cut. There are still details and differences to work out. And what I’ve said is, neither Democrats or Republicans should get 100 percent of what they want. They’re going to have to compromise. They’re going to have to figure this out.
Both sides are close, though, and we know that a compromise is within reach. And we also know that we can’t afford not to have Congress work out these budgets and make sure that we’re investing in the right things. If these budget negotiations break down, we could end up having to shut down the government, just at a time when the economy is starting to recover.