I have a different vision for the future. I've never believed that government has all the answers to our problems. I've never believed that government's role is to create jobs or prosperity. I believe it's the drive and ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, the skill and dedication of our workers, that has made us the wealthiest nation on Earth. I believe it's the private sector that must be the main engine of our recovery.
I believe government should be lean, it should be efficient, and it should leave people free to make the choices they think are best for themselves and their families, so long as those choices don't hurt others.
But in the words of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, I also believe that government should do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves.
That means making long-term investments in this country's future that individuals and corporations cannot make on their own: investments in education and clean energy; in basic research, technology, and infrastructure
That means making sure corporations live up to their responsibilities to treat consumers fairly and play by the same rules as everyone else; to look out for their workers and create jobs here at home.
And that means providing a hand up for middle-class families - so that if they work hard and meet their responsibilities, they can afford to raise their children, send them to college, see a doctor when they get sick, and retire with dignity and respect.
That's what we Democrats believe in - a vibrant free market, but one that works for everybody. That's our vision for a stronger economy and a growing middle-class. And that's the difference between what we and the Republicans in Congress are offering the American people right now.
And of course, there was the big dividing line on Taxes:
I'll give you one final example of the differences between us and the Republicans, and that's on the issue of tax cuts. Under the tax plan passed by the last administration, taxes are scheduled to go up substantially next year. Now, I believe we ought to make the tax cuts for the middle class permanent. These families are the ones who saw their wages and incomes flatline over the last decade - and they deserve a break. And because they are more likely to spend on basic necessities, this will strengthen the economy as a whole.
But the Republican leader of the House doesn't want to stop there. Make no mistake: he and his party believe we should also give a permanent tax cut to the wealthiest two percent of Americans. With all the other budgetary pressures we have - with all the Republicans' talk about wanting to shrink the deficit - they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next ten years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 to folks who are already millionaires. These are among the only folks who saw their incomes rise when Republicans were in charge. And these are folks who are less likely to spend the money, which is why economists don't think tax breaks for the wealthy would do much to boost the economy.
So let me be clear to Mr. Boehner and everyone else: we should not hold middle class tax cuts hostage any longer. We are ready, this week, to give tax cuts to every American making $250,000 or less. For any income over this amount, the tax rates would go back to what they were under President Clinton. This isn't to punish folks who are better off - it's because we can't afford the $700 billion price tag. And for those who claim that this is bad for growth and bad for small businesses, let me remind you that with those tax rates in place, this country created 22 million jobs, raised incomes, and had the largest surplus in history.
Like I said, more to come. From this site, and from the President.