Over the last eight years, the state of the American economy has gone from good to worse to terrible. Years of irresponsible governing, shortsighted fiscal policies, and lax regulation by President Bush and Congressional Republicans have left a Republican Deficit so widespread that it impacts every aspect of American life and so deep that it will take years to fully recover.
Despite having inherited the worst economic crisis in generations, Democrats know that the United States can both rebound and make the investments needed to rebuild our economy for the long term. The 111th Congress has already passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which creates American jobs, invests in America’s future, and provides middle-class and small business tax relief. Though a critical victory for the American people, this package is only the first step of the multi-step solution that will be required to correct the mistakes of the past, strengthen the economy, and ensure economic competiveness and prosperity in the future.
Next on the agenda: Passing a fiscally responsible budget that cuts taxes for middle-class families and provides a blueprint for investments in education, health care, and energy. Years of Republican neglect in these critical areas have contributed to the nation’s economic troubles: the rising cost of health care is burdening families and businesses; lack of access to quality education is holding back our nation’s students; our dependence on oil is threatening our economic and national security; and our shrinking middle class is bankrupting the American Dream. Addressing each of these critical priorities is necessary for our nation to recover from the Republican Deficit and rebuild and strengthen our economy, today and for decades to come.
The Republican Health Care Deficit
Reforming the nation’s health care system to reduce costs for individuals and businesses and expand access to quality care is not only good policy, it is critical to the physical health of the American people and the financial health of the American economy. Unfortunately, during the eight years Republicans controlled Washington, leaders failed to address the nation’s health care needs and underfunded critical health care programs. The result was higher costs, weakened employer-sponsored coverage, more uninsured Americans, and financial uncertainty for working families.
Senate Democrats are working to reverse the Republican health care deficit by supporting public health programs that work, modernizing health information technology, addressing the shortfall of health professionals for underserved populations, investing in medical research, encouraging prevention and early detection, and setting the stage for health care reform. The costs of doing otherwise are simply too great.
After eight years of the Bush Administration:
· The United States has received less bang for its health care buck than any other nation. We spend approximately 16.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product on health care, twice the average of other developed nations. Yet, life expectancy for Americans is below that of 49 other nations, behind Bosnia and the Virgin Islands, as well as Japan and most of Europe.
· The cost of family health insurance has skyrocketed nearly 100 percent. The average employer-sponsored premium for a family of four rose to $12,680 in 2008, with the average worker contributing $3,354 and the average employer contributing $9,325. This is an increase of $6,170 from 2000, with employers contributing $4,506 more and workers contributing $1,735 more. This rate of increase is far beyond the rate of inflation and wages which declined in real terms during the Bush Administration.
· Rising health care costs have jeopardized employer-sponsored coverage and threatened the financial stability of business. Unlike other nations, much of our nation’s health care coverage is provided by the employers. Over time, increased health care costs have threatened American companies’ ability to compete in the global market. For example, General Motors spends $1,400 more per car for health care than Toyota, placing the company at a $5 billion disadvantage. As a result, many companies have begun decreasing health benefits. The percentage of non-elderly individuals with employment-based health benefits decreased from 66 percent in 2000 to 61 percent in 2007.
· The cost of individual insurance has also skyrocketed. Approximately 17 million Americans buy their own coverage, due in part to the unavailability or loss of employer-coverage. As the costs for employer-sponsored coverage have risen, so have the costs of individual insurance, and often times at a faster pace. In just the last two months, many insurance companies have reported double-digit premium increases in the individual market. According to one survey, a single person could be expected to pay approximately $300 per month for an individual policy, with a deductible of nearly $2,000; and a family could be expected to pay nearly $500 per month, with a deductible of $2,600.
· The number of uninsured Americans has increased by 7 million people. Rising costs have led many Americans to forgo health insurance for themselves and their families. The number of uninsured Americans rose from 38.7 million in 2000 to 45.7 million in 2007. Given the weak economy and the increase in unemployment, the number of uninsured Americans likely jumped in 2008 (the final numbers are not yet available) and will probably rise again in 2009. It is already estimated that 87 million people – one in three Americans under 65 – were uninsured at some point during the last two years. Studies show that for every one percent increase in unemployment, an additional 1.1 million become uninsured.
· Health care costs have placed millions of American families in financial peril. Rising medical expenses have resulted in nearly 50 percent of all personal bankruptcies, and nearly half of all home foreclosures.
The Republican Education Deficit
For decades, Americans have known that the key to success is a quality education. Workers with a college degree can expect to earn $1 million more in their lifetime than those with only a high school degree. The disparity is even greater between high school and graduate degree earners. Now, with the 21st Century global marketplace becoming increasingly technological and advanced, it is also clear that education is the key to a successful and secure nation. The ability of the United States to compete successfully with other industrialized nations depends on the education, skill, and ingenuity of the American people. Educational investments also yield a high rate of return. For every dollar invested in high-quality, comprehensive early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children, the nation can expect a $4 to $9 return in higher earnings, graduation rates and employment rates and in decreased crime, special education services, and social services. Given the importance of education to individual and our national success, it is shocking that the Bush Administration squandered its opportunity to comprehensively reform and improve the nation’s education system.
Senate Democrats are working to reverse the Republican education deficit by expanding educational opportunities for all Americans, from pre-school to high school to graduate school to lifelong learning. Our blueprint for education reform includes investments in early childhood education; science, technology, engineering, and math programs; better teachers and principals; adequately-sized school infrastructure; and the Pell Grant student-loan program. The costs of doing otherwise are simply too great.
After eight years of the Bush Administration:
· The United States is trailing other countries in educational preparedness. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the United States still leads the world in overall competiveness. This good news is tempered, however, by far lower rankings in educational preparedness. The United States ranks 19th in the quality of our education system, 25th in the quality of primary education, and 48th in the quality of math and science education. In order for America to flourish culturally and remain competitive in an increasingly technical and educated world, we must ensure our children have access to a quality education from pre-school to graduate school.
· Too many of the nation’s school children are falling behind. In 2007, only approximately one-third of fourth graders and eighth graders were able to demonstrate solid academic performance in reading and math.
· Too many schools are overcrowded. A 2004 report by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 8.5 percent of public schools have exceeded their capacity, with one in five schools holding classes in common areas such as gyms and cafeterias.
· College costs have risen 43 to 58 percent. Average tuition, fees, room and board costs at four-year private universities have increased by $10,276, or 43 percent, from $23,856 in the 2001-2002 academic year to $34,132 in the 2008-2009 academic year. Tuition, fees, room and board charges at four-year public colleges jumped from $9,032 to $14,333 for the 2008-2009 academic year – an increase of $5,301, or 58 percent.
· Average student loan debt soared to more than $19,000. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, more than 60 percent of college seniors graduate with debt, with an average of $19,200 in debt per graduate. And, according to the Institute for Public Policy and Higher Education, 31 percent of the median family income is needed to pay for one year at a four-year public college after financial aid.
· The continuing credit crisis is affecting the ability of students and families to afford rising tuition costs. Lenders are increasing their lending standards and 39 lenders are no longer offering private student loans.
The Republican Energy Deficit
Clean and renewable energy has been unfortunately neglected during the last eight years. And despite our years of knowledge about the security, environmental, and economic risks of our addiction to oil and fossil fuels, we are more addicted and reliant than ever.
Senate Democrats are working to reverse the Republican energy deficit by investing in energy efficiency and clean renewable energy such as the sun, the wind, and advanced biofuels; a smarter grid; low-carbon fuels; and green jobs can help put our economy back on track, improve our energy security, and make America the engine of innovation in the 21st Century. Not only will these investments create jobs now, they will develop new technologies that will make America the engine of innovation in the 21st Century, save the nation billions in energy costs, and improve our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The costs of doing otherwise are simply too great.
After eight years of the Bush Administration:
· The nation is far too dependent on oil. In 2008, the United States imported approximately 2.37 million barrels of oil and petroleum products per day or approximately 73.5 million barrels of oil and petroleum products per month from countries in the Persian Gulf, which accounts for about 18 percent of the nation’s total oil and petroleum product imports. The United States also imported approximately 5.7 million barrels of oil and petroleum products per day in 2008 or approximately 177 million barrels of oil and petroleum products per month from countries that belong to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which accounts for about 44 percent of the nation’s total oil and petroleum product imports.
· The nation is spending more on foreign oil. In 2001, the United States sent approximately $101 billion to countries to pay for oil. By the end of 2008, the cost of America’s addiction to oil had increased to $439 billion, which is a shocking 338 percent increase. The total amount of American dollars sent overseas for oil equals about 18 percent of the combined estimated gross domestic product of all the countries that belong to OPEC.
· Gas prices jumped as much as 180 percentfrom$1.46 per gallon of regular gas in January 2001 to an all-time high of $4.11 in July 2008. The price for a barrel of oil increased 370 percent during the Bush Administration from $31 in January 2001 to highs of $145 in July 2008. Before the financial crisis and the subsequent reduction in oil and gasoline prices, the average household with children was spending about $4,143on transportation fuel costs in 2008, an increase of 118 percent or $2,240over 2001 costs.
· Electricity prices increased by 24 percent. The residential price for electricity increased from 8.58 cents per kilowatt hour in 2001 to 10.65 cents per kilowatt hour in 2007. This increase in residential electricity prices resulted in the average residential electricity bill increasing from $81 per month to $100 per month.
· Home natural gas prices jumped 36 percent. The residential price for natural gas increased from $9.63 per thousand cubic feet in 2001 to $13.70 per thousand cubic feet in 2008. These increases resulted in winter natural gas expenditures increasing from $445 during the winter of 2001 and 2002 to the anticipated cost of $866 during the winter of 2008 and 2009.
· Heating oil prices have skyrocketed by 156 percent. The price for heating oil increased from $1.16 per gallon in the winter of 2001 and 2002 to $3.31 per gallon in the winter of 2007 and 2008. The increases in heating oil prices resulted in winter heating oil expenditures increasing from $627 during the winter of 2001 and 2002 to $1,953 during the winter of 2007 and 2008.
· Global warming emissions has increased. When the previous Administration came into office, the Energy Information Administration reports that the United States emitted 6,958 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. The most recent data from the Energy Information Administration shows that in 2007 those emissions increased by 224 million metric tons to 7,282 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (approximately five percent). From 1990 to 2007, U.S. emissions increased by 16.7 percent.
· Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen. Since 2001, the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen from 371 to 386 parts per million. The most recent data from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii indicates that over the last 50 years the annual mean growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been increasing by approximately 1.42 parts per million per year. Recently, atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases were measured at 392 parts per million at an Arctic research station near Norway.
The Republican Middle-Class Deficit
Over the last eight years, life for millions of American families has grown less affordable and less secure. Working Americans have suffered from lower wages, fewer jobs, declining home values, increasing foreclosures, and skyrocketing costs for basic necessities like gas, health care, and college tuition. Senate Democrats are working to reverse the Republican middle-class deficit – the middle class squeeze – by providing middle-class tax cuts, addressing housing crisis, spurring job growth, and encouraging savings. The costs of doing otherwise are simply too great.
After eight years of the Bush Administration:
· Job creation is among the worst in 75 years. In February, the economy lost 651,000 jobs, marking the fourteenth straight month of job losses for non-farm payrolls. Job losses in the last four months have averaged 646,000. Total job losses since the start of the recession now total 4.4 million, with over half of the losses (2.6 million) occurring in the past four months.  And though the nation has experienced the sharpest declines over the last year, job creation has been consistently weak throughout the eight years of the Bush Administration. Overall employment growth has averaged around only 22,000 jobs per month – only a fraction of the 150,000 jobs needed each month to keep up with population growth. It was not uncommon to see monthly job gains of 300,000 and even 400,000 during economic expansions during the Clinton Administration.
· Unemployment has risen to the highest level in 16 years, leaving millions more unemployed. In part because of the failure to create an adequate number of new jobs, the national unemployment rate hit 8.1 percent in February 2009, the highest rate in 25 years. This represents 12.5 million people who are officially counted as unemployed – 6.4 million more people than were unemployed in January 2001.
Unfortunately, once they lose their job, America’s workers also are staying unemployed longer. In February 2009, 23.1 percent of unemployed persons (or 2.9 million) had been unemployed for more than 26 weeks, 2.2 million more than in January 2001. Beyond the unemployed, 8.6 million Americans are considered underemployed because they want to work full-time but can only find part-time work, five million more than at the start of the Bush Administration. What is worse, none of the above statistics, capture the 2.1 million – 756,000 more than in January 2001 — Americans who want a job but have been discouraged from looking for work (to be counted as unemployed by the government, a person must be actively looking for work). And “[t]he problem is ensnaring a broader swath of workers than before. Once concentrated among manufacturing workers and those with little work history, education or skills, long-term unemployment is growing most rapidly among white-collar and college-educated workers with long work experience.”
· Wages have stagnated. Middle-class families are working harder and earning less today than they were eight years ago. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, has declined $333 from $50,566 in 2000 to $50,233 in 2007 (the latest year for which we have data). Between 2000 and 2007, the government’s measure of take-home pay (median weekly earnings) increased by a mere 0.3 percent (adjusted for inflation), compared with 7.7 percent growth between 1989 and 2000 (the last comparable business cycle).
· Employment compensation has lagged behind productivity gains. While the productivity of the American worker (output per hour) rose by 19.08 percent between the fourth quarter of 2000 and the third quarter of 2008, average hourly compensation (wages plus benefits, adjusted for inflation) increased by only 6.3 percent during this period.In sum, Americans are working harder – and more productively – but are not receiving proportionally increased rewards for their hard work. 
· Foreclosures have increased by more than 80 percent in the last year. According to RealtyTrac, more than 2.3 million U.S. properties faced foreclosure in 2008, an 81 percent increase from 2007. This was added to the 1.3 million properties that faced foreclosure in 2007, a 75 percent increase from 2006. It is estimated that 1.2 million of the foreclosures in 2008 were on residential properties. And while Democrats are working to lower this number through aggressive homeowner assistance programs, early forecasts project that overall foreclosures could rise by 2.4 million in 2009 and by eight million (1 in 9 households) over the next five years as adjustable rate loans continue to adjust higher and Americans grapple with job loss and rising unemployment.
· Home values are plummeting. Even homeowners with strong credit, who are in safe, fixed-rate loans are suffering from the reduction in property values and home equity wealth that result from foreclosures in their neighborhoods. In February 2009, the National Association of Realtors reported that the national median existing single-family home price in the fourth quarter of 2008 dropped 12.4 percent below the fourth quarter of 2007 price. It is estimated that by the end of 2009 more than 40 million homeowners will have experienced a decline in their home values due to surrounding foreclosures – a total loss of $352 billion.
The Republican Fiscal Deficit
President Obama, who has been in office only a few months, inherited a trillion dollar Republican Deficit. Despite cuts to critical domestic programs, President Bush, with Congressional Republicans by his side, created record deficits, increased spending, and doubled the national debt. Senate Democrats are working to reverse the Republican fiscal deficit by passing a fiscally responsible budget that provides for long-term investments that will yield future savings, honestly reflects government spending, and cuts the deficit in half by the end of President Obama’s first term. The costs of doing otherwise are simply too great.
After eight years of the Bush Administration:
· Record budget surpluses turned into record deficits. President Clinton ran a unified budget surplus of $236 billion, the largest surplus in American history. Budget surpluses were expected to continue for another ten years when President Bush took office in January 2001. But under the Republican’s watch, the federal budget plunged back into deficit, reaching record levels. By 2002, the unified federal budget had returned to a deficit of $160 billion and this year, President Obama inherited a record deficit of $1.3 trillion
· Spending nearly doubled in the past eight years. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Senate Budget Committee, between 2001 and 2009, spending (outlays) rose from $1.9 trillion to $3.7 trillion.
· Doubling the national debt. Republicans presided over the largest explosion of debt in our nation’s history. During his time in office, President Bush requested that Congress increase the statutory debt limit seven times. The day before George W. Bush assumed the presidency in 2001, the public debt was $5.7 trillion. On the last day of President Bush’s presidency in 2009, the public debt stood at $10.6 trillion, approximately $35,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.
· Tripling the amount of U.S. debt held abroad. In order to finance record budget deficits, the United States has had to borrow at unprecedented rates from foreigners. As of January 2009, the United States had accumulated $2.1 trillion more in debt to foreigners than this country had accumulated in its first 224 years. Last year, 68 percent of the new debt of this country was financed by foreign entities.
· The worst economic performance in decades. Not only did President Obama inherit the dismal fiscal situation created by the Republican Deficit, he also inherited a country facing very dire economic conditions. Economic growth declined dramatically from the third quarter of 2008, when there was a negative one-half of one percent of growth, to the fourth quarter of 2008, when the economy contracted at a rate of over six percent. We are in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, financial and housing crises, and we have lost over 3.3 million private sector jobs in the last six months alone.
 Department of Health and Human Services, “The Costs of Inaction[:] the Urgent Need for Health Reform” (March 2009), available here; Central Intelligence Agency, CIA World Factbook 2008, Life Expectancy at Birth, available here .
 The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust, “Employer Health Benefits Survey 2008″ (September 2008), available here at exhibit 6.4, “Health Care: A Primer” (March 2009), available here.
 U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007 (August 2008), available here; U.S. Census Bureau, Health Insurance Coverage: 2000 (September 2001), available here; Employee Benefit Research Institute, October 2007; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 2008; Stan Dorn, et al, “Medicaid, SCHIP and Economic Downturn: Policy Challenges and Policy Responses” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (April 2008).
 Department of Health and Human Services, “The Costs of Inaction[:] the Urgent Need for Health Reform” (March 2009), available here; Christopher Tarver Robertson, Richard Egelhof, and Michael Hoke, “Get Sick, Get Out: The Medical Causes of Home Mortgage Foreclosures,” Health Matrix (August 2008), available here.
 U.S. Office of Management and Budget, “A New Era of Responsibility[:] Renewing America’s Promise” (Preliminary Budget Request, Fiscal Year 2010), citing the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Nation’s Report Card, available here.
 The Institute for College Access and Success (2006), based on an analysis of data from the Department of Education, National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (2004) cited in “A New Commitment to Students and Families: Opening the Door to College for All” prepared by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (July 2007) at 12.
 The Institute for Public Policy and Higher Education, Measuring Up 2006: The National Report Card on Higher Education cited in “A New Commitment to Students and Families: Opening the Door to College for All” prepared by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (July 2007) at 11.
S.1_m.htm" target="_blank"> Calculations based on data available from Energy Information Administration, Household Vehicle Energy Use: Latest Data and Trends; Short Term Energy Outlook (November 2007), available here, Household Vehicles Energy Use: Data Tables, Table A2 (released November 2005), available here.
 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Survey (March 6, 2009), available here; Joint Economic Committee analysis of U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Survey (March 6, 2009).
 Joint Economic Committee analysis of U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (January 9, 2009), available here. Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages, not seasonally adjusted, available here.
 Center for Responsible Lending, “United States Foreclosures: Impact & Opportunities” (January 2009), available here (state by state data on foreclosures is available here), and “Continued Decay and Shaky Repairs: The State of Subprime Loans Today” (January 2009), available here (citing Credit Suisse).
 “The fall in home prices has cut into Americans’ home equity and forced many to grapple with mortgages now worth more than the house itself.” Michael M. Grynbaum, Consumer Confidence Slips as Home Prices Drop, New York Times (April 29, 2008).
 National Association of Realtors, “4th Quarter Metro Area Home Prices Down as Buyers Purchase Distressed Property” (February 12, 2009), available here.
 Center for Responsible Lending, “Updated Projections of Subprime Foreclosures in the United States and Their Impact on Home Valus and Communities” (August 2008), available here (state by state data is included).