Democrats recognize the importance of meeting our most urgent needs—not just in the short term but also in the long run. Starting with the passage of the Recovery Act, Democrats began a series of strategic investments in health care, energy, and education that are laying the groundwork to build a stronger economic foundation for the future.
Democrats cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, provided help for small businesses and homeowners, and strengthened consumer protections for anyone who has a credit card or a bank loan. Despite Republican obstruction at almost every turn, Democrats have provided relief for hardworking Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
Democrats reinstated fiscal responsibility in government spending and ensured that American taxpayers will never again be forced to bail out big banks.
We still have work to do, but Democrats are moving forward with a “Made in America” economic plan to strengthen American industries and create jobs for American workers by:
- Ending tax loopholes that let corporations hide profits overseas, and investing those dollars in small businesses that create jobs in America;
- Providing tax cuts to small businesses and expanding lending so that businesses can create new jobs;
- Investing in a clean-energy economy, and providing tax credits to spark manufacturing of windmills, solar panels, and electric cars here at home; and
- Putting Americans to work rebuilding roads, bridges, rails, and ports, strengthening our economy and our infrastructure across all 50 states.
Democrats stand for the values of hard work and responsibility, and we know that as a country we are most successful when we invest in our people—middle-class families and small business owners—who can grow our economy from the bottom up. Together, we have begun to lay a new foundation for growth, building an economy that works for all Americans.
America has a long and rich heritage of immigration. Democrats have always embraced our country’s diversity, but we also recognize that our current immigration system is broken. Democrats support comprehensive reform grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability:
- Responsibility from the federal government to secure our borders: The Obama administration has dedicated unprecedented resources to securing our borders and reducing the flow of illegal traffic in both directions.
- Responsibility from unscrupulous businesses that break the law: Employers who exploit undocumented workers undermine American workers, and they have to be held accountable.
- Responsibility from people who are living in the United States illegally: Undocumented workers who are in good standing must admit that they broke the law, pay taxes and a penalty, learn English, and get right with the law before they can get in line to earn their citizenship.
Comprehensive immigration reform is essential to continue the tradition of innovation that immigrants have brought to the American economy and to ensure a level playing field for American workers.
In recent years Democrats have further increased access to higher education and restructured and dramatically expanded college financial aid, while making federal programs simpler, more reliable, and more efficient for students. In 2010, President Obama signed into law student loan reform that ended government subsidies to big banks and made college more affordable to millions of Americans—a measure in size and scope second only to the G.I. Bill.
The Obama Administration is working to overhaul the “No Child Left Behind” program and provide teachers with more professional support and resources—while also holding them accountable. President Obama instituted “Race to the Top,” a revolutionary program designed to promote innovation and provide incentives for improvement in education. As a result, already over a dozen states have made changes to increase standards and implement reforms.
As the global marketplace grows more competitive, we need to expand opportunities for higher education and job training. Democrats are committed to increasing the college-completion rate as well as the share of students who are prepared for budding industries with specific job-related skills.
Democrats recognize education as the most pressing economic issue in America’s future, and we cannot allow our country to fall behind in a global economy. We must prepare the next generation for success in college and the workforce, ensuring that American children once again become global leaders in creativity and achievement.
In the past, government investments in scientific research have yielded innovations that have helped shape the landscape of American life—technologies like the Internet, digital photography, Global Positioning System technology, laser surgery, and cancer treatment. But over the past three decades, support for the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences has declined at a time when other countries are substantially increasing their own research budgets.
Democrats believe that scientific research should play an important role in advancing science and technology in the classroom and in the lab. In order to compete globally, our next generation must be equipped with the tools and skills that lead to the technological innovations and scientific breakthroughs of the future. Democrats have taken significant steps to expand educational opportunities and make college more affordable for all Americans while improving the quality of our schools and our teachers.
Democrats have made historic investments in research for clean-energy technologies that are helping to create the industries of the future. The Obama Administration lifted federal restrictions on stem cell research, providing scientists and doctors with new resources to help save lives.
Democrats are working to close the “digital divide,” expanding access to high-speed broadband Internet. We recognize that broadband is an important addition to our national infrastructure by expanding access to information and education while serving as a central resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs to generate economic growth.
The Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to use technology as an instrument to restore faith, transparency, and accountability to government. By opening up government to all Americans, we can harness the ingenuity and experience of all Americans to increase efficiency and effectiveness of government.
Democrats believe that a dignified retirement is central to the American Dream, and its foundation is built on two long-standing institutions charged with realizing that dream: Medicare and Social Security. These two institutions represent an unbreakable commitment to American workers, and for decades Democrats have fought to defend them.
In 1935, Democrats and President Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security. In 1965, Democrats and President Lyndon Johnson created Medicare. Ever since, Democrats have continually fought to defend these cornerstones of the American Dream in the face of attempts to dismantle or undermine both.
PROTECTING SOCIAL SECURITY
For 75 years, Social Security has been an enduring promise to America’s seniors. Today it remains a safety net for seniors and offers all Americans peace of mind. In recent years, Democrats have beaten back Republican plans to privatize Social Security—plans that would have exposed the retirement funds of millions of American seniors to great risk on the eve of the financial crisis. Instead, no one lost a penny of Social Security.
Medicare is the second pillar of Democrats’ commitment to Americans’ retirement security. Recently enacted health reform strengthened the Medicare trust fund, expanding its life by more than a decade. The Affordable Care Act also will improve care across the board, reduce fraud, and finally close the hole in Medicare drug coverage known as the “donut hole.” Seniors will continue to have full access to their doctors and, starting in 2011, will be eligible for free coverage for certain preventive services, including an annual wellness exam.
HELPING AMERICANS SAVE FOR RETIREMENT
Democrats are committed to making it easier for Americans to save for retirement on their own. Nearly half the workforce—about 75 million people—currently do not have employer-supported retirement plans. Democrats want to make it easier for all Americans to participate in retirement accounts at work and support a system where employees have pension portability, so workers don’t lose their pension if they change jobs.
Democrats believe that all Americans have the right to a secure and healthy retirement, and we will continue fighting to preserve both Medicare and Social Security for future generations.