FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
August 12, 2004 • Carson, CA
Over the last few weeks, John Edwards
and I have made our way across this country we love, from
sea to shining sea, because we believe in America and we
believe we can do better.
And at every stop we’ve made, from great cities
to the great Southwest, from the flag-draped front porches
of Main Street America to the small family farms that dot
the Midwest, we’ve met Americans who believe that
While millions are struggling to find work, and millions
more are struggling to pay the bills, these folks hold
on to an optimism that is both courageous and classically
American. They know we can do better. They know our best
days lie ahead. And they still believe in an America where
a willingness to work hard is rewarded with the opportunity
to earn a decent living and the chance to get ahead.
John Edwards and I think it’s time we built an economy
that honors those values. And we think it’s time
the American people had a government that lives by them.
We believe a stronger America at home is built on a strong
That’s why today, after days of listening and learning
about the hopes and concerns of hardworking people from
every corner of America, and after more bad economic news
for middle-class families, I’d like to talk about
our real economic plan to build a stronger America.
It’s a plan that makes us stronger by creating good-paying
jobs here instead of shipping jobs overseas. A plan that
makes us stronger by giving middle-class families tax breaks,
not bigger bills. A plan that makes us stronger by revitalizing
American manufacturing, helping our businesses become more
competitive, and investing in the high-wage, high-tech
jobs of tomorrow. And it’s a plan that is our answer
to the everyday Americans who have shared their dreams
with us every moment of this journey. Theirs are the concerns
we share. Theirs are the hopes we hold. And theirs are
the stories that are the heart of our campaign to build
a stronger America.
The road to this America takes us in a new and better
direction. It’s based on telling the American people
the truth – not selling them shop-worn slogans. But,
in the last week, we’ve been told over and over again
that America has turned the corner.
When we’ve had four years of disappearing manufacturing
jobs that have put millions out of work, the Americans
I’ve met don’t think we’ve turned the
When we’ve had four years of falling wages, rising
health care costs, and a shrinking middle-class, the Americans
I’ve met don’t think we’ve turned the
When we’ve had four years of people working harder
and harder and still not getting ahead, the Americans I’ve
met don’t think we’ve turned the corner.
Too many of the Americans I’ve met over the last
few weeks not only don’t think we’ve turned
the corner – they feel like they’ve been backed
into a corner by the policies of the last four years – rising
unemployment…exploding deficits…falling wages….American
jobs shipped overseas.
The sad fact is: Too many of our fellow citizens don’t
have to read about how disappointing last month’s
job numbers were, because they’re living the disappointment.
They don’t need to be told about the rising costs
of health care, because they’re the ones who can’t
afford to take their child to the doctor. And they don’t
need to open the paper to find out that the new jobs being
created pay $9,000 less than the ones we’ve lost,
because they’re the ones who open their paychecks
and wonder how they’ll pay the bills.
The response of this Administration – of those in
charge -- is to tell us that this is the best economy we've
ever had. And we’re told anyone who thinks otherwise
is a pessimist. Well, here is our answer: There is nothing
more pessimistic than saying America can't do better.
There’s a very simple reason we’ve gone four
years without a plan to fix our economy: no one in the
White House thought anything was broken. And they still
don’t. They’re just fine with the same old
failed policies of the past. That’s why, like Herbert
Hoover, they say prosperity is still just around the corner.
And that’s why we’re still waiting to hear
a plan for the next four years.
We can do better and we will. We're the optimists. For
us, this is a country of the future. We're the can do people.
And let's not forget what we did in the 1990s. We balanced
the budget. We paid down the debt. We created 23 million
new jobs. We lifted millions out of poverty and we lifted
the standard of living for the middle class. We just need
to believe in ourselves – and have the right leadership
and the right policies -- and we can do it again.
We can make choices that widen the circle of opportunity
for all Americans, not just the select few. We can build
an economy with a growing middle-class where everyone has
the chance to succeed. And we can finally create jobs and
bring tax relief to all of our families.
Over the last four years, again and again, we were promised
that tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals would create
millions of new jobs. Instead, we’ve lost jobs, and
these unaffordable tax cuts have led America into deficits
as far as the eye can see. This Administration is the first
since Herbert Hoover’s to actually lose jobs on its
watch – 1.8 million jobs. Just last month, there
were only 32,000 jobs created in the entire country – a
pace far behind what is needed to keep up with the 2 million
college graduates who will enter the workforce this spring.
And now, to add insult to injury, just yesterday the other
side talked about a national sales tax. At least that’s
what they call it. I call it one of the largest tax increases
on the middle class in American history. This is from an
Administration that has offered almost no new ideas for
our economy – and the few they have proposed have
only hurt middle class families. This one is no different.
It’s a twenty to thirty percent national sales tax
-- on top of the state and local sales taxes that Americans
already pay. This tax will hurt small business, it will
hurt jobs, and it will hit the pocketbooks of those who
need tax relief the most.
Middle-class families can’t afford four more years
of a tax plan that drives up unemployment, drives up the
deficit, and drives up their tax burden and the costs of
health care, child care, and college tuition. When tax
cuts for the very wealthiest Americans are your first,
second, and only priority, you don’t have anything
left to take care of health care premiums that have risen
over $2,600. You don’t have anything left to take
care of skyrocketing property taxes in states struggling
to pay for these deficits. And you don’t have anything
left to take care of the cost of child care and college
tuition that has risen over $1,200.
When tax cuts for the wealthiest are your only priority,
you don’t have anything left for middle-class Americans – and
it’s middle-class Americans who end up paying the
I will be a president who stands with the middle class
and stands for fairness
We believe it’s time America had tax cuts that work
for all Americans. We believe it’s time we had tax
cuts that help create good-paying jobs – right here
in America. And, after four years of shifting the tax burden
from those with the most to those most struggling to make
ends meet, we believe it’s time that America’s
tax code reflected America’s moral code. And when
I’m President, it will.
I have a comprehensive economic plan for a stronger America
that will allow us to create jobs and keep more good jobs
here in America. It offers a long-term strategy to win
our economic future, and it gives our workers the skills
and the training they need to compete and succeed in a
new economy. And, most importantly, it includes tax cuts
that will create jobs and provide relief for middle-class
families struggling to make ends meet – tax cuts
that are paid for without increasing the deficit one single
First, we start with a Jobs First Tax Cut strategy that
will replace deficit-expanding tax cuts for the few with
job-creating tax cuts for every American.
Let me tell you precisely what this Jobs First Tax Cut
strategy includes. It starts by closing tax loopholes that
reward companies for shipping our jobs overseas. Instead
of supporting an economic policy that thinks sending jobs
overseas is good for America, we will provide tax incentives
for companies that create and keep jobs where they belong – in
the good ol’ U.S.A.
We value an America that exports products, not jobs – and
we believe American workers should never have to subsidize
the loss of their own job.
To the taxpaying businesses of America out there, our
Jobs First Tax Cut strategy takes the savings from closing
these loopholes to cut taxes for 99% of you. To the small
businesses and manufacturers who decide to add more employees
to the payroll, we will provide a New Jobs Tax Credit for
every person you hire.
We will completely eliminate capital gains taxes for those
who make long-term investments in the small businesses
and entrepreneurs who have always been America’s
engine for innovation and job creation. And to those small
business owners who want to hire more employees but cannot
afford to insure them, we will give you up to a 50% tax
cut on your health care contributions when you cover your
My plan focuses on the rising cost of health care for
families and small businesses, because I know that no working
parent ever feels they are turning the corner unless they
have a job that not only provides a decent wage, but the
heath care that every family needs and deserves.
We need a president who understands that the health of
our economy is tied to the health of our citizens.
Finally, my tax plan will make our tax code fair. You
know, our tax code has gone from 14 pages to 17,000 pages.
It’s time to crack down on tax shelters, taking Enron’s
page out of the tax code so we can add another page for
Second, our middle-class tax cuts will raise middle-class
We’re tired of people just getting by; we want people
to get ahead. So to help you pay for health care, we’ll
offer a tax break and health care reform to lower your
premiums up to $1,000. To help you cover the rising costs
of child care, we’ll offer a tax credit up to $1,000
to cover those costs so your kids have a safe place to
go while you work. And to give your child the chance to
go to college, we’ll offer a tax break on up to $4,000
To pay for all this, we make sure that 98 percent of all
Americans keep their tax cuts, while rolling back only
the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over
$200,000 a year so that we can invest in health care, education,
and job-creation. They will go back to paying the same
taxes they paid when Bill Clinton was president – a
time when the rich got richer, and so did everyone else.
And to help folks in states where these unaffordable tax
cuts for the wealthy have driven up deficits and killed
jobs, we will offer $25 billion in relief to lower tuition
costs, keep property taxes down, and make sure we can afford
to defend our homeland.
Third, we believe it’s time for Washington to lives
within a budget just like you do. We will make sure that
these tax cuts don’t add one dime to the deficit
so that we can protect Social Security and so that our
children aren’t paying for them for the rest of their
lives. Four years ago, this Administration was handed a
record surplus. Today, we have record deficits. Passing
or proposing $6 trillion in spending over the last four
years without paying for a dime of it has jeopardized job
creation and the foundation of economic strength in America.
Our plan will cut the deficit in half in four years by
ending tax giveaways that are nothing more than corporate
welfare – and we will make government go back to
a simple rule: pay as you go. And we will cut the waste
from our government—cutting 100,000 contractors we
don’t need, cutting the top-level bureaucracy that
has grown over the last four years, cutting government
agencies that have outlived their purposes.
Finally, our economic plan is not just about economic
relief today, it’s also about making the long-term
investments in our nation’s future. If we want America
to thrive in the long run, we must invest more in our people
and their ideas, in science and technology, so that we
can create high-tech, high-wage jobs in industries that
are already improving the quality of our lives. We will
offer tax credits to help us seize the possibilities of
the Broadband Revolution and make Internet access available
to all of America’s families. We will offer tax credits
to buy and produce the fuel-efficient cars of the future,
so that we can finally build an Energy Independent America.
And we will give our workers the education and the job
training that the jobs of tomorrow require today.
Our economic plan for America is based on the values we
hold as Americans: that we should reward work, make sure
Americans have a chance to work, and give them a chance
to get ahead when they do.
We value jobs that pay you more not less than you earned
before. We value jobs where, when you put in a week's work,
you can actually pay your bills, provide for your children,
and lift up the quality of your life. We value an America
where the middle class is not being squeezed, but doing
These aren’t Democratic values. These aren't Republican
values. They're American values. We believe in them. They're
who we are. And if we honor them, if we believe in ourselves,
we can build an America that's stronger at home and respected
in the world.
You know, the last time a campaign took a cross-country
trip across America was when Harry Truman ran for President
in 1948. Their whistle-stop tour steamed through many of
the small towns ours has, and when it reached the coasts
of California, the man from Missouri who had spent a lifetime
given ‘em hell told the crowd, “I wish I were
18 instead of 64. I would like to see the next 50 years
because I think the greatest age in the history of the
world is in front of us, and that age depends entirely
on the proper leadership in the United States of America.”
My friends, we can do more than turn corners. We can take
a new path that will lead America to a better place and
We can do more than turn corners. We can turn our economy
around, and build one that works for every American.
John Edwards and I are ready to lead, and we have a plan
to get us there – a plan to build a better America.
Like Franklin Roosevelt, my test is not whether an idea
is Democrat or Republican, but whether it will work. My
tax plan to create jobs for the middle class will work.
And it’s going to put our economy back on track.
We can do this. We can reach for the next dream. We can
look to the next horizon. For America, the hope is there.
The sun is rising. Our best days are still to come. Thank
you and God bless you.