Our economy is in trouble. Economists may debate the technicalities of a recession, but most Americans think we've been in one for years. Real wages are flat, benefits are shrinking and good jobs are scarce. Basic household costs—milk, gas, heat and health care—continue to rise. The cost of gas has doubled since Bush took office, and home heating oil is up even more. Gas and heating oil now cost families an average of $2,500 more a year than in 2000. Since that year, too, public college tuitions are up nearly 40% in real dollars, and family health care premiums are up more than half. This economy isn't working for working families.
The trouble reaches beyond families to the nation as a whole. We're the world's largest debtor, running up unsustainable trade deficits. We run a trade deficit with China—not just in cheap goods but also in advanced technology products. To cover our global deficits, we borrow or sell off assets at the rate of $2 billion a day. Half of our public debt—$4.5 trillion—is owned by foreign governments, companies and individuals. We're spending about $10 billion a month on the war in Iraq, while starving vital investments here at home. We must dramatically change course.
We're in an energy crisis. Americans are paying outrageous prices for gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil. Conservative policies have given big oil companies their largest profits in history, and conservatives promise to continue those destructive policies at our expense. We need change. We need to end America's dependence on foreign oil by investing in conservation, energy efficiency, and clean power. Our ultimate goal is to cut carbon fuel sources and replace them with renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
Rising health care costs are a disaster for middle-class Americans. Greedy insurance and drug companies are putting profits before people. Conservative proposals like the McCain plan would make the problem worse by pushing employers to end health insurance benefits, forcing most Americans to find new, more expensive coverage. We need change. Let's create an American system that lets us keep our doctors and choose private or public insurance coverage, at our discretion. Let's focus on lowering costs and providing quality, affordable health care for all. Make health care a guarantee.
Out of Iraq to Real Security
After more than five years the American public agrees it is time to responsibly end the war in Iraq. The war is costing us over $10 billion a month and it is a distraction from the pursuit of Al Qaeda and other pressing security needs. The war continues to drain our military strength. Army tour are now 15 months long with inadequate time between tours.
The threat of terrorism is very real, and conservative foreign policy has made it worse. Occupying Iraq has destabilized the Gulf region and helped Al Qaeda recruit. The first step in reassembling a broad, aggressive global coalition against Al Qaeda and its allies is to end the occupation of Iraq and redirect our energy and attention to the true threat.
The banking industry is out of control. To increase profits, finance companies sold subprime and nontraditional mortgages to millions of Americans who—the companies knew—could not afford to make the payments. Bush and his conservative allies deliberately stepped aside and allowed this rash of irresponsible lending. We need change. Let's hold the banking industry responsible for their actions and adopt common-sense rules to curb the worst predatory lending practices.
Our tax system is unfair. Middle-class families pay too much while the very richest individuals and corporations pay too little. Conservative proposals are designed to make taxes even more unfair. We need change. Let's get rid of tax giveaways and loopholes and adjust tax rates so that everyone pays their fair share.