After eight long years of failed policies and misguided priorities, the American people demanded change. They rejected a foreign policy that indefinitely keeps our brave troops in harm’s way and called for a national security policy that makes us safer at home and more respected around the world. The American people rejected economic policies that put the wealthiest and big corporations ahead of everyone else, instead calling for an economy that lets middle-class families reap the benefits of their hard work, send their children to school, pay the bills and afford to stay healthy. And they rejected our reliance on oil from volatile regions of the globe while we poison the air, water and soil here at home, insisting on a cleaner and greener America that protects our environment and promotes us to energy independence.
The road ahead is dire and daunting, but Democrats are answering the call. There is much work to do, a lot at stake, and no time to waste.
That is why we have hit the ground running this year to strengthen our national security, economy, environment and energy future. We may have inherited the most severe problems in generations, but with solutions as bold as the challenges we face and the courage to put aside our political differences to make them happen, we resolve to leave the next generation with a better America and a safer world than the one we found.
Economic Recovery and Reinvestment: Under Democratic leadership, the 111th Congress has already enacted legislation that will create jobs, put the middle class first, and strengthen our economy. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was signed into law on February 17, will create or save 3.5 million jobs, invest in our nation’s infrastructure, technology, and education, and cut taxes for working families. These investments in America will help strengthen the economy and ensure long-term global competitiveness. The plan will also ensure unprecedented transparency, oversight and accountability so that Americans can see not only how their money is being spent, but also the results of their investments.
Middle-Class Opportunity: The 111th Congress also enacted legislation to ensure fair pay for all Americans. On January 29th, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The law overturned a Supreme Court decision that made it more difficult for victims of pay discrimination to seek redress and receive justice. The new law will help protect Americans’ right to receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. In so doing, the law will strengthen the middle class and ensure that working Americans reap the full benefit of their hard work.
As we move forward in this Congress, Democrats will continue to expand middle-class opportunities by making college, child care, elder care and retirement more affordable and strengthening the rights of workers to secure fair wages and benefits.
A Cleaner And Greener America: Democrats are committed to making America more energy independent, strengthening our economy and national security, and protecting the environment. We will invest in clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency – and provide incentives for businesses to invest in the same. We will break our addiction to oil and reinvigorate our manufacturing economy by creating green jobs that cannot be outsourced. We will also protect consumers from volatile energy prices and make our infrastructure and transportation sectors more sustainable.
Affordable And Accessible Health Care: Democrats are committed to lowering costs and increasing value so that all Americans can afford quality health care. We are working to improve our health care system – including preventing disease, reducing health disparities and making it more affordable for small businesses to cover their employees. We will protect existing coverage when it is good, improve it when it is not, and guarantee health care for the 46 million Americans, including 9 million children, who have none.
Homeowner Protection and Wall Street Accountability: Democrats are committed to restoring confidence in our economy by protecting consumers from Wall Street abuses and protecting homeowners from foreclosure. We will stabilize the housing market and help families keep their homes. The economy cannot recover without a healthy financial system, so we will reform the way Wall Street operates, increasing transparency and accountability to prevent risky bets that threaten the whole system. We will also protect consumers by preventing predatory lending and stabilize credit markets so small businesses can once again safely invest in America and create jobs.
Preparing Our Children For The Future: Democrats are committed to expanding educational opportunities for all Americans, preparing them to succeed in the global economy. We will increase access to early childhood education, strengthen math and science instruction, and help make college more affordable. We will reform elementary and secondary education so that all children learn from effective teachers, take rigorous classes and attend accountable schools.
Restoring America’s Power: Democrats are committed to enhancing our national security by strengthening the military, rebuilding America’s standing in the world and reducing key threats. We will provide our troops the equipment and training they need in battle and our veterans the support they deserve when they come home. We will strengthen nonproliferation and protect our nation from other deadly weapons. And we will more effectively fight terrorism by transitioning our strategy in Iraq and refocusing our resources on Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other emerging threats.
Returning Government To The People: Democrats are committed to restoring accountability and oversight to the executive branch and making government more transparent. We will start by reviewing the Bush Administration’s controversial “midnight regulations” that hurt American workers, their families, their health care and the environment.
Strong Borders, Strong Economy: Democrats are committed to strengthening our economy and national security by enforcing tough and fair immigration laws. We willreform our immigration policy to safeguard the rights and wages of American workers, while requiring everyone who lives in America to follow our laws and pay their share of taxes.
Restoring Fiscal Responsibility: Democrats are committed to reinforcing our commitment to fiscal discipline and working on a bipartisan basis to address our long-term fiscal challenges. We will call for a top-to-bottom review of the government’s budget, enforce pay-as-you-go rules and eliminate wasteful spending that would increase the deficit.