My fellow Americans, in this fall’s election we face a stark choice for the future of our beloved country. Our country has tremendous strength and resilience, but we also face grave difficulties. If we respond the right way, we will mobilize our strengths, conquer our difficulties, and thrive as never before. But if we take a wrong path, a path that fails to unite our strengths for the common purpose of a more prosperous and secure nation, we can send our nation into decline.
The way to prosperity is to pool a portion of our treasure for common investments in our future. This means investment in infrastructure, education, research and health care. No private individual or company can or will do these essential investments in public goods like transportation and education, which are key to our common future.
The motto of our opponents that “government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.” But both ideas, that “government is the solution” or that “government is the problem” are dangerous and destructive half-truths that we can no longer afford to be misled by. The reality is the bad government has been part of the problem, and that good government is an essential part of the solution.
A disastrous part of the “government is the problem” ideology has been the massive deregulation of the financial industry over the past thirty years, by both Republican and Democratic administrations. The founder of free market economics, Adam Smith, already saw that if we allow financial institutions to play by their own rules it will lead to reckless speculation, and disastrous busts. The removal of regulation led in 2008 to the worst financial downturn in over two generations, with great suffering for ordinary Americans. Yet our Republican opponents want to remove the financial regulation we have restored. Make no mistake: this is a reckless and irresponsible policy. If you vote for me and for a Democratic congress we will protect you from being devastated again by reckless financial speculation.
Our opponents tell you that our social insurance programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and the comprehensive health insurance we passed are “big government” programs trying to control your lives and oppress you. This is false and deceptive. First, these programs are insurance programs that you pay the premiums for, and receive the benefits when you need them. And government doesn’t tell you how to spend your social security check, and less than 1% of it goes to government administration. And health care programs don’t tell you which doctor or hospital to choose. These insurance programs work better because we are all in them. And they give us the leverage to hold down the costs of health care, which we can’t do privately or in smaller groups. The large pool also enables us to cover those who would be left without health insurance because of lack of money. And it is good to restore people to health both for the economy and because it's the right thing to do. If you elect me and a Democratic congress we will keep social security and Medicare as comprehensive protections, and hold down health care costs.
Finally, our opponents propose that instead of government investing in the people and the country, we need to cut government investments radically and give tax cuts to the rich. We have already seen the results of that experiment. Tax cuts for the rich under my predecessor led to huge deficits, stagnation for the middle class, and more suffering for the poor. The reality is that we had more growth under the high tax period from WWII to 1979, than since. Long term, deficits are indeed a danger, and by restoring the earlier tax rates on the rich we can successfully manage this problem, while we make the vitally necessary investments for a strong American future.
The Republicans have been like a smooth talking big brother who convinced us that if we wore a cape and jumped off the garage roof, we could fly. We broke one leg, and now he says we just need a bigger cape. We won’t we fooled again. Austerity and cutting investment in America are not the keys to prosperity. They never have been, never. Instead, for our entire history our common investment in ourselves, through our government has been the key to prosperity. From the Erie Canal to Lincoln’s Homestead Act and the transcontinental railroad. From the rural electrification act of Roosevelt to the Interstate Highway system of Eisenhower, and finally to the initial development of the internet by DARPA under both Republican and Democratic Presidents, such investments have been the key to enabling private business and the whole country to thrive.
In our second term, with the support of a Democratic congress, these investments will enable private business to thrive, bring us fully out of the recession,so that we experience the prosperity and security we all know that we can create.