The Presidential election this year presents a make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans. In this election, the voters will have a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy. The path Mitt Romney and his Republican allies want to take us down is exactly the one that led this country’s economy to the crisis in 2008. We must reject those policies and embrace the President’s vision of growing the economy, not from the top down, but from the middle class out to all American citizens. The choice couldn’t be clearer on the issues most important to all Americans, especially those in the middle-class. Let’s take a look at President Obama’s vision for America:
• Better Education: We need to invest in good teachers and help more students go to college and get job training — not pack kids into classrooms and slash scholarships.
• More, Cleaner Energy: We need to invest in promising new sources of energy to create a market for innovation and good jobs of the future — not go back to relying on foreign oil.
• Leading Through Innovation: We need to invest in our best scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs so they innovate here — not cede new ideas to countries like China and India.
• Job-Creating Infrastructure: We need roads, bridges, ports, and broadband technology that attract businesses that will create jobs here — not more pet projects and bridges to nowhere.
• Fair, Simple Tax Reform: We need to reward businesses that create jobs here instead of rewarding outsourcing. The wealthiest must be asked to pay their fair share again and not sacrifice investments critical to the middle class.
All of us know this economic crisis didn’t start in 2008. For almost a decade before, things weren’t working the way they should have been and our economy was in trouble. The American people saw costs for everything from health care to education rising faster than wages. Good-paying, middle-class jobs were becoming harder to find, as more and more companies moved production overseas. We were allowing U.S. manufacturing jobs to leave this country and go to countries like Mexico. In short, those in control of our national government had our economic and fiscal policies totally out-of-kilter.
The GOP solution was the same then as it is now — massive tax cuts benefiting the wealthy, rolling back regulations on risky behavior for Wall Street and banks, and drastic cuts to services that the middle class depends on, such as Medicare, education, and job training. A decade ago, President Bill Clinton left a record surplus. But the Bush Administration put two wars, two huge tax cuts, and the Medicare prescription program on a credit card, and handed President Obama a trillion dollar deficit and an out-of-control economic crisis when he took office. To put it mildly, our country was in a big mess. The President – in spite of GOP roadblocks in Congress – got down to work and now things are heading in the right direction. But there is more to do.
Now Gov. Romney and his allies want to take us back to those same, disastrous policies: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and free rein for Wall Street to write its own rules. Gov. Romney’s failed formula was tried for most of the last decade. I must concede the formula benefitted a few – the superrich – but it exploded the deficit, crashed our economy, and devastated the middle class. It didn’t grow our economy, create good jobs, or pay down our debt. In fact, it did the opposite. The sad reality is that Gov. Romney really doesn’t have a plan of his own. All he has to offer is a warmed-over version of the Bush-Cheney plan that came very close to causing a devastating depression. The plan didn’t work then and neither will it work this time. Independent economists have confirmed that the plan adopted by Gov. Romney – if put in effect – wouldn’t cut the deficit. Nor would it create a single job – in fact, it would slow growth and push us back into recession.
The President has laid out a very different vision, one where everyone — no matter who they are, where they are from, or how big their bank account is — pitches in together to rebuild the foundations of our country and economy. Instead of another $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, President Obama believes we should pay down our debt and invest in the things needed to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. That means restoring and upgrading our crumbling infrastructure, investing in education, and paying down our debt responsibly. It will also ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more and they can certainly afford to do so. This approach requires tough choices and shared sacrifice — exactly how the American economy was built in the first place.
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