The presidential election this year is critically important for our nation’s future. The two party conventions, and subsequent happenings, have reinforced for all of us how very important it is to re-elect President Obama. It’s essential to re-elect this President if we want this country to have the future our children and our grandchildren deserve, and I believe most Americans realize it. We must have a forward-looking, broad-based prosperity, must modernize our economy, advance our national security, and build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries. President Obama inherited an economy on the brink of total collapse in 2009. The financial crash in September 2008 made an already weak economy much worse. The crash also made the time required to return to full employment much longer. But President Obama pressed on, with a strategy both to deal with that dire emergency and also to implement his plan for long-term prosperity. This was an awesome challenge.
Fortunately for all of us, President Obama enacted measures to prevent the recession from becoming a full-scale depression. He then followed up with a bold agenda, including action to prevent another financial crash by requiring banks to hold more cash reserves to back-up risky loans and investments; to provide incentives to bring manufacturing jobs back to America; to restructure the automobile industry, and reclaim America’s leadership in clean energy jobs; to reform the student loan program to lower interest rates and increase the graduation rate by limiting annual repayment costs to a small fixed percentage of a graduate’s income, and to achieve comprehensive health care reform to expand coverage to millions of Americans, improve the quality of care and hold down inflation in future health care costs.
The fundamental question in this election is whether our nation moves forward with that agenda, or backwards with the failed policies of the past. We all know that soon after Barrack Obama became President, the automobile industry was days from collapse. Had he let it go—had he let the plants close and the suppliers go under—it would have cost our already weakened economy more than one million jobs. It would have also had a disastrous effect on other segments of our nation’s economy. The polls told the President to let it go down. So did those who were already jockeying for the Republican Presidential nomination, including Mitt Romney, which some of us may have forgotten. But President Obama decided to save this industry and to do it the right way.
The car companies – to the surprise of many – rose to the challenge. President Obama bet on the ingenuity of the American worker and American entrepreneurs and, as we all know, America won. The results: Instead of America losing more than one millions jobs, we now have a resurgent automobile industry that has added a quarter of a million jobs since the rescue. It’s significant that Chrysler and GM have repaid their outstanding government loans in full.
The President faced a similar decision when it came to reform health care—an accomplishment that had eluded Presidents for a hundred years. This was equally challenging, and the President decided on the bold course. He knew the present system was unfair, and vastly more expensive than that of any other nation, with high health costs responsible for nearly two-thirds of personal bankruptcy filings. It was also a huge factor in holding wages down. With the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, which the Republican strategists likened to “Obamacare,.” I am convinced America won again.
For any doubters, the proof is in the results. For two years in a row, inflation in health care costs has been less than four percent for the first time in 50 years. Individuals and businesses have already received $1.1 billion in refunds on their health premiums. That’s because the law requires that 80-85% of a person’s premium be spent for health care, not for profits and promotion. And millions of young Americans between the ages of 21 and 26 are now covered on their family’s policies and that’s a tremendous happening.
President Obama believes in the middle-class and is rebuilding our nation’s economy on a foundation of the fundamental middle-class values that made America great—hard work, equal opportunity, shared responsibility and shared prosperity. The President believes America prospers when work pays, responsibility is rewarded and everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream. In the last 36 months alone, the economy has produced over 4.5 million private sector jobs—far more private sector jobs than in the eight years of the Bush Administration – and that’s a major accomplishment. In the current recovery, the economy has outpaced job creation after the 2001 recession by almost 2.5 million private sector jobs.
But all of the progress that has been made over the past three years is on the line in this election. Mitt Romney has made it very clear that he is determined to take us back – by reversing the bold decisions President Obama has made – to the failed policies of the past. Romney basically wants to do what the Republicans did before – cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, weaken financial regulation, and allow our manufacturing job to be moved overseas. The former New England governor would return to us those failed policies of the past that got us into the financial crisis in the first place.
Mitt Romney is running on a reckless $5 trillion tax plan, with even more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, that would either add to the deficit or raise taxes on the middle-class – or both. He is also promoting a plan to end Medicare as we know it. Romney would reduce investments in education, medical research and science and technology programs. That’s something that would hurt all Americans for generations to come.
It’s critically important that we re-elect Barack Obama President of the United States. But even with all of the bad stuff on Mitt Romney, and even with all of his blunders, this race is going to be very close. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, the Super PACs are dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into attack ads against the President. The billionaires and special interests want more tax cuts, and less regulation. They are determined to destroy the capacity of the federal government to help our nation move forward. As President Clinton so aptly said at the convention, this race is a classic contest between “you’re on your own” and “we’re in this together.” It’s time for the 99% who are left out by Gov. Romney to stand by the man who has led us back from the brink of collapse onto the path of recovery. We can’t afford to make a mistake in this race – our nation’s economic and social future depend on us making the right decision – and for that reason we must re-elect President Obama.
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