Senate Democrats

DEMOCRATS DEMAND ACTION TO EASE MIDDLE-CLASS SQUEEZE

Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Senator Charles Schumer today called for a real change in Congress, from Republican policies that put special interests before working families to leadership that serves all Americans. As the middle class have struggled, the Congress has done little to help and Democrats believe it is time that change.

For millions of hard-working families, the last five years have seen American life grow less affordable. Since 2001, while gas prices are up 104%–to over $3 dollars a gallon–health care premiums over 70%, and college tuition as much as 57%, wages have dropped nearly 1%. Worse, the Republican Congress has stayed true to form and done nothing to help, focusing instead on policies that only serve the very wealthiest. A report by the Democratic Policy Committee that details the squeeze on America’s middle class is attached to this release. Democrats believe it is time for a new direction, and are fighting for policies that will help hard-working men and women across the country.

“Middle class families are struggling with higher gas prices, they’re facing ever-rising college tuition costs, and they’re confronting rising health care costs. The Republican Congress hasn’t noticed, and it is time for a change,” said Senator Reid. “It is time for the Senate to start putting the middle class first, to make the day-to-day problems of ordinary Americans our problems. Democrats are pushing to crack down on price gouging in the oil industry, to make college tuition tax deductible, and to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Democrats are fighting to take this country in a new direction.”

“When the average family sits around the kitchen table and talks about their hopes and fears, they’re not talking about flag burning, the estate tax, or gay marriage,” Schumer said. “Middle class families are worried about skyrocketing prices at the pump, rising tuition costs, and making sure their loved ones are healthy and safe. These families should be the Senate’s priority and they are the Democrats top priority, but it seems the Republicans care far more about appeasing the hard right wing conservative base, then helping out these folks.”

The Senators were joined by Noah Miller, Cindy Sovine, and five year old Jonathan, a middle-class family from Lakewood, Colorado that is struggling to make ends meet. Their story is unfortunate, but hardly unique: working hard to barely afford the high cost of gas, of their home, and of American life.

Said Ms. Sovine today, “For us, it’s all about choices. Do we pay for our health insurance and prescription drugs, or do we save money for retirement or for our son Jonathan’s college education? We both work hard and have good jobs, but it’s hard to make ends meet.”

Mr. Miller added, “We bought our first house and chose an area with good schools. But that means that my commute is much longer. I have to fill up the gas tank about twice a week, which costs about $45 each time. This is a big expense for our budget.”

Democrats believe Congress must finally address the middle-class squeeze and offer help to working families struggling just to get by. With gas above $3 a gallon, health care costs skyrocketing, and wages flat or falling, it is time for a new direction. The Congress has waited to long to help, and it is time to get to work.

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