The Change.gov Agenda
The following agenda is copied from change.gov. As a publication of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain. A similar document was posted at www.barackobama.com during the 2008 electoral season. The version shown was accessed December 3, 2008. If you identify differences in earlier or later versions of this document, please annotate them at the appropriate section below. Subpages in the original HTML are presented here as top-level subject headers.
Each of the sections below is accompanied on the parent site by a box soliciting comments germane to that section, with the text, "There is no more important resource for changing the direction of this country and defining the ideas that will transform America than the American people. Tell us your ideas and be part of the change you're looking for". These links, labeled "Submit your ideas", are included below.
- 1 The Agenda
- 2 Civil Rights
- 3 Defense
- 3.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 4 Disabilities
- 5 Economy
- 5.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 5.1.1 1. IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CREATE GOOD JOBS IN AMERICA
- 5.1.2 2. IMMEDIATE RELIEF FOR STRUGGLING FAMILIES
- 5.1.3 3. DIRECT, IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE FOR HOMEOWNERS, NOT A BAILOUT FOR IRRESPONSIBLE MORTGAGE LENDERS
- 5.1.4 4. A RAPID, AGGRESSIVE RESPONSE TO THE FINANCIAL CRISIS -- USING ALL THE TOOLS WE HAVE
- 5.1.5 Trade
- 5.1.6 National Infrastructure Investment
- 5.1.7 Technology, Innovation and Creating Jobs
- 5.1.8 Small Business
- 5.1.9 Labor
- 5.1.10 Mortgages, Homeownership, and Bankruptcy
- 5.1.11 Credit Cards and Lending
- 5.1.12 Work-Family Balance
- 5.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 6 Education
- 7 Energy and Environment
- 7.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 8 Ethics
- 9 Family
- 10 Fiscal
- 11 Foreign Policy
- 12 Health Care
- 13 Homeland Security
- 13.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 13.1.1 Defeat Terrorism Worldwide
- 13.1.2 Prevent Nuclear Terrorism
- 13.1.3 Strengthen American Biosecurity
- 13.1.4 Protect Our Information Networks
- 13.1.5 Improve Intelligence Capacity and Protect Civil Liberties
- 13.1.6 Protect Americans from Terrorist Attacks and Natural Disasters
- 13.1.7 Protect Critical Infrastructure
- 13.1.8 Modernize America's Aging Infrastructure
- 13.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 14 Immigration
- 15 Iraq
- 16 Poverty
- 17 Rural
- 18 Seniors and Social Security
- 19 Service
- 20 Taxes
- 21 Technology
- 21.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 21.1.1 Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Ideas through an Open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets
- 21.1.2 Create a Transparent and Connected Democracy
- 21.1.3 Deploy a Modern Communications Infrastructure
- 21.1.4 Improve America's Competitiveness
- 21.1.5 Prepare All our Children for the 21st Century Economy
- 21.1.6 Prepare Adults for a Changing Economy
- 21.1.7 Employ Science, Technology and Innovation to Solve Our Nation's Most Pressing Problems
- 21.1 The Obama-Biden Plan
- 22 Urban Policy
- 23 Veterans
- 24 Women
- 25 Additional Issues
- 26 Further reading
The Obama Administration has a comprehensive and detailed policy agenda. Among many important domestic and foreign policy objectives, priorities of the Obama Administration include: a plan to revive the economy; provide affordable, accessible health care to all; strengthen our public education and social security systems; define a clear path to energy independence and tackle climate change; end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan; work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Plan to Strengthen Civil Rights
"The teenagers and college students who left their homes to march in the streets of Birmingham and Montgomery; the mothers who walked instead of taking the bus after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry and cleaning somebody else's kitchen -- they didn't brave fire hoses and Billy clubs so that their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren would still wonder at the beginning of the 21st century whether their vote would be counted; whether their civil rights would be protected by their government; whether justice would be equal and opportunity would be theirs.... We have more work to do."
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama has spent much of his career fighting to strengthen civil rights as a civil rights attorney, community organizer, Illinois State Senator and U.S. Senator. Whether promoting economic opportunity, working to improve our nation's education and health system, or protecting the right to vote, Obama has been a powerful advocate for our civil rights.
- Combat Employment Discrimination: Obama and Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
- Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: Obama and Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section.
- End Deceptive Voting Practices: Obama will sign into law his legislation that establishes harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud and provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote.
- End Racial Profiling: Obama and Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
- Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support: Obama and Biden will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.
- Eliminate Sentencing Disparities: Obama and Biden believe the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated.
- Expand Use of Drug Courts: Obama and Biden will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.
Support for the LGBT Community
"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
The Obama-Biden Plan
- Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
- Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
- Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
- Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
- Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
- Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.
- Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Barack Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.
“Our country's greatest military asset is the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. When we do send our men and women into harm's way, we must also clearly define the mission, prescribe concrete political and military objectives, seek out the advice of our military commanders, evaluate the intelligence, plan accordingly, and ensure that our troops have the resources, support, and equipment they need to protect themselves and fulfill their mission.”
April 23, 2007
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will invest in a 21st century military to maintain our conventional advantage while increasing our capacity to defeat the threats of tomorrow. They will ensure our troops have the training, equipment and support that they need when they are deployed.
Invest in a 21st Century Military
- Rebuild the Military for 21st Century Tasks: Obama and Biden believe that we must build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply; invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, and human intelligence and other needed counterinsurgency and stabilization skill sets; and create a more robust capacity to train, equip, and advise foreign security forces, so that local allies are better prepared to confront mutual threats.
- Expand to Meet Military Needs on the Ground: Obama and Biden support plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marine Corps by 27,000 Marines. Increasing our end strength will help units retrain and re-equip properly between deployments and decrease the strain on military families.
- Leadership from the Top: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will inspire a new generation of Americans to serve their country, whether it be in local communities in such roles as teachers or first responders, or serving in the military to keep our nation free and safe.
- Lighten the Burdens on Our Brave Troops and Their Families: The Obama-Biden administration will create a Military Families Advisory Board to provide a conduit for military families' concerns to be brought to the attention of senior policymakers and the public. Obama and Biden will end the stop-loss policy and establish predictability in deployments so that active duty and reserves know what they can and must expect.
Build Defense Capabilities for the 21st Century
- Fully Equip Our Troops for the Missions They Face: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must get essential equipment to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines before lives are lost.
- Review Weapons Programs: We must rebalance our capabilities to ensure that our forces can succeed in both conventional wars and in stabilization and counter-insurgency operations. Obama and Biden have committed to a review of each major defense program in light of current needs, gaps in the field, and likely future threat scenarios in the post-9/11 world.
- Preserve Global Reach in the Air: We must preserve our unparalleled airpower capabilities to deter and defeat any conventional competitors, swiftly respond to crises across the globe, and support our ground forces. We need greater investment in advanced technology ranging from the revolutionary, like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and electronic warfare capabilities, to essential systems like the C-17 cargo and KC-X air refueling aircraft, which provide the backbone of our ability to extend global power.
- Maintain Power Projection at Sea: We must recapitalize our naval forces, replacing aging ships and modernizing existing platforms, while adapting them to the 21st century. Obama and Biden will add to the Maritime Pre-Positioning Force Squadrons to support operations ashore and invest in smaller, more capable ships, providing the agility to operate close to shore and the reach to rapidly deploy Marines to global crises.
- National Missile Defense: The Obama-Biden administration will support missile defense, but ensure that it is developed in a way that is pragmatic and cost-effective; and, most importantly, does not divert resources from other national security priorities until we are positive the technology will protect the American public.
- Ensure Freedom of Space: The Obama-Biden administration will restore American leadership on space issues, seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites. They will thoroughly assess possible threats to U.S. space assets and the best options, military and diplomatic, for countering them, establishing contingency plans to ensure that U.S. forces can maintain or duplicate access to information from space assets and accelerating programs to harden U.S. satellites against attack.
- Protect the U.S in Cyberspace: The Obama-Biden administration cooperate with our allies and the private sector to identify and protect against emerging cyber-threats.
Restore the Readiness of the National Guard and Reserves
- Equip, Support, and Modernize the National Guard and Reserves: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will provide the National Guard with the equipment it needs for foreign and domestic emergencies and time to restore and refit before deploying. They will make the head of the National Guard a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ensure concerns of our citizen soldiers reach the level they mandate. They will ensure that reservists and Guard members are treated fairly when it comes to employment, health, and education benefits.
Develop Whole of Government Initiatives to Promote Global Stability
- Integrate Military and Civilian Efforts: The Obama-Biden administration will build up the capacity of each non-Pentagon agency to deploy personnel and area experts where they are needed, to help move soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out of civilian roles.
- Create a Civilian Assistance Corps (CAC): Obama and Biden will create a national CAC of 25,000 personnel. This corps of civilian volunteers with special skill sets (doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agriculture specialists, police, etc.) would be organized to provide each federal agency with a pool of volunteer experts willing to deploy in times of need at home and abroad.
Restore Our Alliances
- Engage Our Allies in Meeting Our Common Security Challenges: America's traditional alliances, such as NATO, must be transformed and strengthened, including on common security concerns like Afghanistan, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Obama and Biden will renew alliances and ensure our allies contribute their fair share to our mutual security.
- Organize to Help Our Partners and Allies in Need: The Obama-Biden administration will expand humanitarian activities that build friendships and attract allies at the regional and local level (such as during the response to the tsunami in South and Southeast Asia), and win hearts and minds in the process.
- Create Transparency for Military Contractors: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will require the Pentagon and State Department to develop a strategy for determining when contracting makes sense, rather than continually handing off governmental jobs to well-connected companies. They will create the transparency and accountability needed for good governance, and establish the legal status of contractor personnel, making possible prosecution of any abuses committed by private military contractors.
- Restore Honesty, Openness, and Commonsense to Contracting and Procurement: The Obama-Biden administration will realize savings by reducing the corruption and cost overruns that have become all too routine in defense contracting. This includes launching a program of acquisition reform and management, which would end the common practice of no-bid contracting. Obama and Biden will end the abuse of supplemental budgets by creating a system of oversight for war funds as stringent as in the regular budget. Obama and Biden will restore the government's ability to manage contracts by rebuilding our contract officer corps. They will order the Justice Department to prioritize prosecutions that will punish and deter fraud, waste and abuse.
"We must build a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination.... policies must be developed, attitudes must be shaped, and buildings and organizations must be designed to ensure that everyone has a chance to get the education they need and live independently as full citizens in their communities."
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a comprehensive agenda to empower individuals with disabilities in order to equalize opportunities for all Americans.
In addition to reclaiming America's global leadership on this issue by becoming a signatory to -- and having the Senate ratify -- the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the plan has four parts, designed to provide lifelong support and resources to Americans with disabilities. They are as follows:
First, provide Americans with disabilities with the educational opportunities they need to succeed by funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, supporting early intervention for children with disabilities and universal screening, improving college opportunities for high school graduates with disabilities, and making college more affordable. Obama and Biden will also authorize a comprehensive study of students with disabilities and issues relating to transition to work and higher education.
Second, end discrimination and promote equal opportunity by restoring the Americans with Disabilities Act, increasing funding for enforcement, supporting the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, ensuring affordable, accessible health care for all and improving mental health care.
Third, increase the employment rate of workers with disabilities by effectively implementing regulations that require the federal government and its contractors to employ people with disabilities, providing private-sector employers with resources to accommodate employees with disabilities, and encouraging those employers to use existing tax benefits to hire more workers with disabilities and supporting small businesses owned by people with disabilities.
And fourth, support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities by enforcing the Community Choice Act, which would allow Americans with significant disabilities the choice of living in their community rather than having to live in a nursing home or other institution, creating a voluntary, budget-neutral national insurance program to help adults who have or develop functional disabilities to remain independent and in their communities, and streamline the Social Security approval process.
The Obama-Biden Plan
Our country faces its most serious economic crisis since the great depression. Working families, who saw their incomes decline by $2,000 in the economic "expansion" from 2000 to 2007, now face even deeper income losses. Retirement savings accounts have lost $2 trillion. Markets have fallen 40% in less than a year. Millions of homeowners who played by the rules can't meet their mortgage payments and face foreclosure as the value of their homes have plummeted. With credit markets nearly frozen, businesses large and small cannot access the credit they need to meet payroll and create jobs.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a plan to revitalize the economy.
- Immediate Action to Create Good Jobs in America
- Immediate Relief for Struggling Families
- Direct, Immediate Assistance for Homeowners, Not a Bailout for Irresponsible Mortgage Lenders
- A Rapid, Aggressive Response to Our Financial Crisis, Using All the Tools We Have
1. IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CREATE GOOD JOBS IN AMERICA
The economy has lost 760,000 jobs this year -- and some forecasters expect the unemployment rate to exceed 8 percent by the end of next year. Addressing the financial crisis will help prevent the most severe loss of jobs from the crisis. But taking direct steps to create jobs will also strengthen the economy and help with the financial crisis. Barack Obama and Joe Biden's overall economic agenda is pro-jobs, including their plans to eliminate America's dependence on foreign oil and bring down healthcare costs. But Obama and Biden believe we must take additional aggressive steps to jump-start job creation right now:
- A New American Jobs Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will provide a new temporary tax credit to companies that add jobs here in the United States. During 2009 and 2010, existing businesses will receive a $3,000 refundable tax credit for each additional full-time employee hired. For example, if a company that currently has 10 U.S. employees increases its domestic full time employment to 20 employees, this company would get a $30,000 tax credit -- enough to offset the entire added payroll tax costs to the company for the first $50,000 of income for the new employees. The tax credit will benefit all companies creating net new jobs, even those struggling to make a profit.
- Raise the small business investment expensing limit to $250,000 through the end of 2009: Obama and Biden will give small businesses an additional incentive to make investments and start creating jobs again by providing temporary business tax incentives through 2009. The February 2008 stimulus bill increased maximum Section 179 expenses to $250,000 but this expires in December 2008. This provision will encourage all firms to pursue investment in the coming months, but will particularly benefit small firms which generally have smaller amounts of annual property purchases and so choose to expense the cost of their acquired property.
- Zero capital gains rate for investment in small businesses: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we need to encourage investment in small businesses to help create jobs and turn our economy around. That's why they will eliminate all capital gains taxes on investments made in small and start-up businesses. They also want to cut taxes for the small businesses that create jobs but are struggling with restricted access to credit on top of skyrocketing health care and energy costs.
- Save one million jobs through immediate investments to rebuild America's roads and bridges and repair our schools: The Obama-Biden emergency plan would make $25 billion immediately available in a Jobs and Growth Fund to help ensure that in-progress and fast-tracked infrastructure projects are not sidelined, and to ensure that schools can meet their energy costs and undertake key repairs starting this fall. This increased investment is necessary to stem growing budget pressures on infrastructure projects. In addition, in an environment where we may face elevated unemployment levels well into 2009, making an aggressive investment in urgent, high-priority infrastructure will serve as a triple win: generating capital deployment and job creation to boost our economy in the near-term, enhancing U.S. competitiveness in the longer term, and improving the environment by adopting energy efficient school and infrastructure repairs. In total, Obama and Biden's $25 billion investment will result in 1 million jobs created or saved, while helping to turn our economy around.
- Partner with America's automakers to help save jobs and ensure that the next generation of clean vehicles is built in the United States: Senator Obama pushed for $50 billion in loan guarantees to help the auto industry retool, develop new battery technologies and produce the next generation of fuel efficient cars here in America. Congress passed only half of this amount -- it is critical that the administration speeds up the implementation of the first half and that Congress move quickly to enact the second half. In addition, Obama and Biden believe that with the tremendous uncertainty facing the auto industry, and the small and medium business suppliers who depend on them, it is critical that we keep all options on the table for helping them weather the financial crisis.
2. IMMEDIATE RELIEF FOR STRUGGLING FAMILIES
Even when the overall economy was growing, most American families were not sharing in this growth. The typical non-elderly household saw its income decline by more than $2,000 from 2000 to 2007 as expenses skyrocketed. Weekly wages, adjusted for inflation, are now lower than they were a decade ago. Barack Obama and Joe Biden's overall economic plan will relieve the squeeze on families and foster bottom-up growth. But they are proposing that we implement several measures immediately:
- A tax cut for 95 percent of workers and their families -- plus seniors: Barack Obama and Joe Biden propose a permanent tax cut of $500 for workers and $1,000 for families. A first round of these tax credits could be mailed out quickly by the IRS based on tax returns already filed for tax year 2007. In addition, Obama and Biden would extend these expedited tax credits to senior citizens who are retired as a down payment on his plan to eliminate taxes for all seniors making up to $50,000.
- Extend unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits: Millions of Americans are looking for work but unable to find it in the weak economy. Today, more than one in five unemployed workers has been out of work for more than half a year -- the highest level since early 2005. Obama supported extending unemployment insurance this summer, but already 800,000 jobless workers have exhausted those benefits and are being left without any unemployment compensation. Obama and Biden believe Congress should immediately extend unemployment insurance for an additional 13 weeks to help families that are being hit hardest by this downturn. In addition, they believe we should temporarily suspend taxes on unemployment insurance benefits as a way of giving more relief to families.
- Penalty-free hardship withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s in 2008 and 2009: Many families are going to be facing unique economic hardship over the coming year. To help these families pay their bills and their mortgages and make it through these tough times, Obama and Biden are calling for legislation that would allow withdrawals of 15% up to $10,000 from retirement accounts without penalty (although subject to the normal taxes). This would apply to withdrawals in 2008 (including retroactively) and 2009.
- Instruct the Treasury to allow seniors to delay required withdrawals from 401(k)s and IRAs: Currently seniors are required to start withdrawing from their 401(k)s and IRAs at age 70 1/2 and every year thereafter over their lifetime. But the explicit requirement that withdrawals continue on an annual basis -- and the related requirement that the amount withdrawn be based on currently much higher year-end 2007 asset values -- is based on Treasury regulations, not the statute, which has a less specific mandate. That means the Secretary of the Treasury has authority to change its regulations to protect seniors from being forced, at this critical time, to sell their investments and "lock in" their losses just after market values have plummeted in an almost unprecedented fashion. Obama and Biden are calling on Treasury to temporarily suspend the required withdrawals for retirees over age 70 1/2. Because retirees often make these required withdrawals late in the year, there is still time to help millions of affected seniors -- but only if done promptly. In addition, because lower-income seniors may have no choice but to take withdrawals this year and in 2008, Obama and Biden will exempt any withdrawals made up to the required minimum amount from taxation. This will give seniors the flexibility they deserve -- to forgo withdrawals if they choose or to take those withdrawals tax free if they need those resources to pay their bills.
- Funds to counteract high heating costs this winter: Obama and Biden are calling for supplementing the recently passed LIHEAP funding to ensure that cold-weather states can cushion the impact of high energy prices for their residents this winter. The Energy Information Administration said that consumers will pay a projected $1,137 to heat their homes from Oct. 1 to March 31 -- 15 percent more than last year's heating outlay during this time. Homeowners that use heating oil rather than natural gas could see increases of 23 percent compared to last year. As part of his $25 billion state fiscal relief package, Obama's plan will supplement existing LIHEAP funding to help state programs expand to cover more residents while continuing to provide a meaningful benefit.
3. DIRECT, IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE FOR HOMEOWNERS, NOT A BAILOUT FOR IRRESPONSIBLE MORTGAGE LENDERS
Over the past two years, Americans have lost 20 percent of the value of their homes. In some parts of the country home values have fallen by twice that amount. In combination with a rapidly deteriorating economy, that means more and more families are having a hard time meeting their monthly mortgage payments. At the same time, many states are considering property tax hikes that will burden homeowners still further. And millions of families who have seen the value of their homes fall below the cost of their mortgages need assistance in restructuring their mortgages to stay in their homes.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden's plan provides direct relief to help America's homeowners pay their mortgages, stay in their homes, and avoid painful tax increases while protecting taxpayers and not rewarding the bad behavior and bad actors who got us into this mess:
- Instruct the Secretaries of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use their existing authority to more aggressively modify the terms of mortgages: Barack Obama was an early champion of the HOPE for Homeowners Act that passed over the summer. In addition, Obama insisted that the financial rescue plan Congress recently passed include authority for the Secretary to work with servicers to modify the terms of mortgages for homeowners who played by the rules. Obama and Biden believe that both of these plans should be implemented aggressively and comprehensively. In addition, Obama and Biden are calling on Treasury and HUD to develop a plan to work with state housing agencies to coordinate broad mortgage restructurings. The Dodd-Frank legislation gives states broader authority to help struggling homeowners, and coordination is essential to ensure that state and national efforts are working in concert to help as many homeowners as possible at the minimum cost to taxpayers.
- Reform the bankruptcy code to assist homeowners and remove legal impediments to encouraging broader mortgage restructuring: Obama and Biden are also calling for legislation to close the loophole in our bankruptcy code that allows bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of mortgages on investment properties and vacation homes but not on primary residences. He also believes we should clarify the legal liability of mortgage servicers so that servicers who work with struggling homeowners to modify their mortgages will receive legal protections. And we should remove any tax- or legal-related impediments to encouraging shared-equity mortgages within the HOPE for Homeownership process.
- Enact a 90-day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners who are acting in good faith: Financial institutions that participate in the financial rescue plan should be required to adhere to a homeowner's code of conduct, including a 90-day foreclosure moratorium for any homeowners living in their homes who are making good faith efforts to pay their mortgages. This will help create stability until the more far-reaching solutions are implemented and give both sides a chance to work out an agreement.
- Provide $25 Billion in state fiscal relief to help avoid painful property tax increases: Budget crunches across the nation are putting our local governments in the untenable position of having to choose between raising property taxes and cutting vital services. Obama has proposed $25 billion in state fiscal relief that, coupled with the new emergency facility to address the state credit crunch, will help states and localities continue to provide essential services like health care, police, fire and education without raising taxes or fees.
- Create a universal mortgage tax credit for homeowners: Barack Obama believes we should immediately enact a 10 percent refundable tax credit on the mortgage interest paid by hardworking American families who do not itemize their taxes. This credit will help offset the cost of mortgage payments for at least 10 million middle-class homeowners.
4. A RAPID, AGGRESSIVE RESPONSE TO THE FINANCIAL CRISIS -- USING ALL THE TOOLS WE HAVE
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that our deep systemic financial market crisis requires a systemic response. They fought to ensure that the recently-passed financial rescue package gave the Treasury the tools to stabilize the financial system, while protecting taxpayers and ensuring CEOs would not get rich in the process. However, this stabilization will only occur if the Treasury, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and other government entities use their authority and move quickly and aggressively to address the financial crisis.
It is now clear that our financial markets will not restart until financial institutions are lending again. Because of the extensive losses many of these institutions have suffered, they need more capital so that they will have the money to lend to families and businesses. Obama and Biden recognized this early, and were heartened by the Treasury's stated intention to use its recently granted authority to inject capital into our financial institutions. However, Secretary Paulson must turn this intention into action quickly and aggressively, in a manner that strengthens confidence in our banks, protects taxpayers, does not reward CEOs, and is strictly temporary.
In addition, our financial authorities must stand ready to take additional, complementary actions -- consistent with the systemic nature of this crisis -- to ensure this Treasury initiative is successful:
- Be prepared, if necessary, for broader assurances for credit to banks: First, we must be prepared to provide additional, temporary assurances to achieve the effective functioning of financial markets. Depending on developing circumstances, these steps could include additional measures by the Federal Reserve, extending insurance to all deposits, or guaranteeing a broader range of liabilities of the banking system including overnight loans. Any such steps should be coordinated internationally where appropriate and feasible. They should be accompanied by additional oversight to ensure appropriate use of guaranteed funds and by the expectation that financial institutions taking advantage of these guarantees will raise more capital.
- Extend asset purchases to unfreeze other critical sectors: Second, the Treasury should not limit itself to purchasing mortgage-backed securities under the financial rescue plan recently passed by Congress. The Treasury should use the authority it has under the new law to help unfreeze markets for individual mortgages, student loans, car loans, loans for multi-family dwellings, and credit card loans.
- Make credit available to small businesses and state or local governments: Third, we should take immediate steps to support non-financial institutions including small businesses and states and municipalities. The Federal Reserve and Treasury have acted to preserve the availability of liquidity for financial institutions and, more recently, have created a program to purchase commercial paper directly from the large corporate issuers. Small businesses and state and local governments, however, are having serious difficulty obtaining necessary financing from debt markets.
- Address the credit crisis facing our states and localities: Barack Obama and Joe Biden propose that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury work together to design a facility to provide a funding backstop to the state and municipal government debt market similar to the recently announced program for the commercial paper market. The Federal Reserve should determine whether it has sufficient legal authority to establish such a facility on its own -- if not, it should work with Treasury and the Congress to achieve this goal. This new facility should be designed to protect taxpayer resources while ensuring that state and local governments can continue to provide vital services to their residents.
- Address the credit crisis facing our small businesses: To address the massive credit crunch that is threatening America's small businesses, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are proposing two immediate steps: (1) a nationwide emergency lending facility for small businesses that could be run through the SBA's Disaster Loan Program, which helped thousands of businesses in the wake of 9/11; and (2) temporarily eliminating fees on the SBA's 7(a) and 504 loan guarantee programs for small businesses, to help increase private lending for small businesses.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that trade with foreign nations should strengthen the American economy and create more American jobs. They will stand firm against agreements that undermine our economic security.
- Fight for Fair Trade: Obama and Biden will fight for a trade policy that opens up foreign markets to support good American jobs. They will use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important benchmarks. Obama and Biden will also pressure the World Trade Organization to enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and nontariff barriers on U.S. exports.
- Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement: Obama and Biden believe that NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people. They will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to fix NAFTA so that it works for American workers.
- Improve transition assistance: To help all workers adapt to a rapidly changing economy, Obama and Biden will update the existing system of Trade Adjustment Assistance by extending it to service industries, creating flexible education accounts to help workers retrain, and providing retraining assistance for workers in sectors of the economy vulnerable to dislocation before they lose their jobs.
- End tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that companies should not get billions of dollars in tax deductions for moving their operations overseas. They will fight to ensure that public contracts are awarded to companies that are committed to American workers.
- Reward companies that support American workers: Barack Obama introduced the Patriot Employer Act of 2007 with Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill) and Sherrod Brown (D-Oh) to reward companies that create good jobs with good benefits for American workers. The legislation would provide a tax credit to companies that maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in America relative to those outside the U.S.; maintain their corporate headquarters in America if it has ever been in America; pay decent wages; prepare workers for retirement; provide health insurance; and support employees who serve in the military.
Manufacturing and Green Jobs
- Invest in our next generation innovators and job creators: Obama and Biden will create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to identify and invest in the most compelling advanced manufacturing strategies. The Fund will have a peer-review selection and award process based on the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund, a state-level initiative that has awarded over $125 million to Michigan businesses with the most innovative proposals to create new products and new jobs in the state.
- Double funding for the manufacturing extension partnership: The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with manufacturers across the country to improve efficiency, implement new technology and strengthen company growth. This highly-successful program has engaged in more than 350,000 projects across the country and in 2006 alone, helped create and protect over 50,000 jobs. But despite this success, funding for MEP has been slashed by the Bush administration. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the MEP so its training centers can continue to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.
- Invest in a clean energy economy and create 5 million new green jobs: Obama and Biden will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. The plan will also invest in America's highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world.
- Create new job training programs for clean technologies: The Obama-Biden plan will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high-paying jobs. Obama and Biden will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
- Boost the renewable energy sector and create new jobs: The Obama-Biden plan will create new federal policies, and expand existing ones, that have been proven to create new American jobs. Obama and Biden will create a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will require 25 percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025, which has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. They will also extend the Production Tax Credit, a credit used successfully by American farmers and investors to increase renewable energy production and create new local jobs.
National Infrastructure Investment
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that it is critically important for the United States to rebuild its national transportation infrastructure -- its highways, bridges, roads, ports, air, and train systems -- to strengthen user safety, bolster our long-term competitiveness and ensure our economy continues to grow.
- Create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will address the infrastructure challenge by creating a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments. This independent entity will be directed to invest in our nation's most challenging transportation infrastructure needs. The Bank will receive an infusion of federal money, $60 billion over 10 years, to provide financing to transportation infrastructure projects across the nation. These projects will directly and indirectly create up to two million new jobs and stimulate approximately $35 billion per year in new economic activity.
Technology, Innovation and Creating Jobs
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will increase federal support for research, technology and innovation for companies and universities so that American families can lead the world in creating new advanced jobs and products.
- Invest in the sciences: Obama and Biden support doubling federal funding for basic research and changing the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology. This will foster home-grown innovation, help ensure the competitiveness of U.S. technology-based businesses, and ensure that 21st century jobs can and will grow in America.
- Make the Research and Development Tax Credit permanent: Barack Obama and Joe Biden want investments in a skilled research and development workforce and technology infrastructure to be supported here in America so that American workers and communities will benefit. Obama and Biden want to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic R&D over multi-year timeframes.
- Deploy next-generation broadband: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we can get broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.
- Provide tax relief for small businesses and start-up companies: Obama and Biden will eliminate all capital gains taxes on start-up and small businesses to encourage innovation and job creation. Obama and Biden will also support small business owners by providing a $500 "Making Work Pay" tax credit to almost every worker in America. Self-employed small business owners pay both the employee and the employer side of the payroll tax, and this measure will reduce the burdens of this double taxation.
- Create a national network of public-private business incubators: Obama and Biden will support entrepreneurship and spur job growth by creating a national network of public-private business incubators. Business incubators facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in creating start-up companies. Obama and Biden will invest $250 million per year to increase the number and size of incubators in disadvantaged communities throughout the country.
Obama and Biden will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama and Biden will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama and Biden will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year.
- Ensure freedom to unionize: Obama and Biden believe that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is a strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bipartisan effort that makes sure workers can exercise their right to organize. They will continue to fight for EFCA's passage and Obama will sign it into law.
- Fight attacks on workers' right to organize: Obama has fought the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) efforts to strip workers of their right to organize. He is a cosponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB's "Kentucky River" decisions classifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction workers, and professional workers as "supervisors" who are not protected by federal labor laws.
- Protect striking workers: Obama and Biden support the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. They will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers, so workers can stand up for themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods.
- Raise the minimum wage: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs.
Mortgages, Homeownership, and Bankruptcy
Obama and Biden will crack down on fraudulent brokers and lenders. They will also make sure homebuyers have honest and complete information about their mortgage options, they'll give a tax credit to all middle-class homeowners, and they'll reform our bankruptcy laws to protect working people.
- Create a universal mortgage credit: Obama and Biden will create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide tax relief to homeowners who do not itemize. This credit will provide an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.
- Ensure more accountability in the subprime mortgage industry: Obama has been closely monitoring the subprime mortgage situation for years, and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama's STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to report suspicious activity.
- Mandate accurate loan disclosure: Obama and Biden will create a Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will provide potential borrowers with a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to APR) for home mortgages. The HOME score will allow individuals to easily compare various mortgage products and understand the full cost of the loan.
- Close bankruptcy loophole for mortgage companies: Obama and Biden will work to eliminate the provision that prevents bankruptcy courts from modifying an individual's mortgage payments. They believe that the subprime mortgage industry, which has engaged in dangerous and sometimes unscrupulous business practices, should not be shielded by outdated federal law.
Credit Cards and Lending
Obama and Biden will establish a five-star rating system so that every consumer knows the risk involved in every credit card. They also will establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to stop credit card companies from exploiting consumers with unfair practices.
- Create a credit card rating system to improve disclosure: Obama and Biden will create a credit card rating system, modeled on five-star systems used for other consumer products, to provide consumers an easily identifiable ranking of credit cards, based on the card's features. Credit card companies will be required to display the rating on all application and contract materials, enabling consumers to quickly understand all of the major provisions of a credit card without having to rely exclusively on fine print in lengthy documents.
- Establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers: Obama and Biden will create a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers. The Obama-Biden plan will:
- Ban Unilateral Changes
- Apply Interest Rate Increases Only to Future Debt
- Prohibit Interest on Fees
- Prohibit "Universal Defaults"
- Require Prompt and Fair Crediting of Cardholder Payments
- Cap outlandish interest rates on payday loans and improve disclosure: Obama and Biden will extend a 36 percent interest cap to all Americans. They will require lenders to provide clear and simplified information about loan fees, payments and penalties, which is why they'll require lenders to provide this information during the application process.
- Encourage responsible lending institutions to make small consumer loans: Obama and Biden will encourage banks, credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions to provide affordable short-term and small-dollar loans and to drive unscrupulous lenders out of business.
- Reform bankruptcy laws to protect families facing a medical crisis: Obama and Biden will create an exemption in bankruptcy law for individuals who can prove they filed for bankruptcy because of medical expenses. This exemption will create a process that forgives the debt and lets the individuals get back on their feet.
Obama and Biden will double funding for after-school programs, expand the Family Medical Leave Act, provide low-income families with a refundable tax credit to help with their child-care expenses, and encourage flexible work schedules.
- Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act: The FMLA covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees. Obama and Biden will expand it to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. They will expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence.
- Encourage states to adopt paid leave: As president, Obama will initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama and Biden will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.
- Expand high-quality afterschool opportunities: Obama and Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve a million more children. Obama and Biden will include measures to maximize performance and effectiveness across grantees nationwide.
- Expand the child and dependent care tax credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Obama and Biden will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
- Protect against caregiver discrimination: Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace. Obama and Biden will enforce the recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.
- Expand flexible work arrangements: Obama and Biden will create a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules; help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama and Biden will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements.
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that our kids and our country can’t afford four more years of neglect and indifference. At this defining moment in our history, America faces few more urgent challenges than preparing our children to compete in a global economy. The decisions our leaders make about education in the coming years will shape our future for generations to come. Obama and Biden are committed to meeting this challenge with the leadership and judgment that has been sorely lacking for the last eight years. Their vision for a 21st century education begins with demanding more reform and accountability, coupled with the resources needed to carry out that reform; asking parents to take responsibility for their children’s success; and recruiting, retaining, and rewarding an army of new teachers to fill new successful schools that prepare our children for success in college and the workforce. The Obama-Biden plan will restore the promise of America’s public education, and ensure that American children again lead the world in achievement, creativity and success.
Early Childhood Education
- Zero to Five Plan: The Obama-Biden comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, the Obama-Biden plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama and Biden will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state Zero to Five efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.
- Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama and Biden will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding, and improve quality for both.
- Provide affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama and Biden will also increase access to affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.
- Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama and Biden will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. They will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.
- Support High-Quality Schools and Close Low-Performing Charter Schools: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the Federal Charter School Program to support the creation of more successful charter schools. The Obama-Biden administration will provide this expanded charter school funding only to states that improve accountability for charter schools, allow for interventions in struggling charter schools and have a clear process for closing down chronically underperforming charter schools. Obama and Biden will also prioritize supporting states that help the most successful charter schools to expand to serve more students.
- Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama and Biden will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. They will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
- Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama and Biden will address the dropout crisis by passing legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school -- strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
- Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama and Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
- Support College Outreach Programs: Obama and Biden support outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
- Support College Credit Initiatives: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create a national "Make College A Reality" initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and will build on Obama's bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources.
- Support English Language Learners: Obama and Biden support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.
- Recruit Teachers: Obama and Biden will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
- Prepare Teachers: Obama and Biden will require all schools of education to be accredited. Obama and Biden will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama and Biden will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
- Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, the Obama-Biden plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. They will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
- Reward Teachers: Obama and Biden will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward with a salary increase accomplished educators who serve as a mentors to new teachers. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.
- Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.
- Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.
Energy and Environment
The Obama-Biden Plan
The energy challenges our country faces are severe and have gone unaddressed for far too long. Our addiction to foreign oil doesn't just undermine our national security and wreak havoc on our environment -- it cripples our economy and strains the budgets of working families all across America. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a comprehensive plan to invest in alternative and renewable energy, end our addiction to foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create millions of new jobs.
The Obama-Biden comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:
- Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
- Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
- Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.
- Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
- Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Energy Plan Overview
Provide Short-term Relief to American Families
- Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation.
- Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices.
Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years
- Increase Fuel Economy Standards.
- Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015.
- Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
- Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
- A “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases.
- Promote the Responsible Domestic Production of Oil and Natural Gas.
Create Millions of New Green Jobs
- Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
- Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
- Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
- Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
- Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050
- Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
- Make the U.S. a Leader on Climate Change.
"I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama has led efforts to reform government both in the Illinois State Senate and in the United States Senate. He will bring this commitment to making government work for the people, not the special interests, to the White House. Obama will ensure Washington works for the people, not the special interests.
Shine the Light on Washington Lobbying
- Centralize Ethics and Lobbying Information for Voters: Obama and Biden will create a centralized Internet database of lobbying reports, ethics records, and campaign finance filings in a searchable, sortable and downloadable format.
- Require Independent Monitoring of Lobbying Laws and Ethics Rules: Obama and Biden will use the power of the presidency to fight for an independent watchdog agency to oversee the investigation of congressional ethics violations so that the public can be assured that ethics complaints will be investigated.
- End the Practice of Writing Legislation Behind Closed Doors: As president, Barack Obama will restore the American people's trust in their government by making government more open and transparent. Obama will work to reform congressional rules to require all legislative sessions, including committee mark-ups and conference committees, to be conducted in public. By making these practices public, the American people will be able to hold their leaders accountable for wasteful spending and lawmakers won't be able to slip favors for lobbyists into bills at the last minute.
Shine the Light on Federal Contracts, Tax Breaks and Earmarks
- Create a Public "Contracts and Influence" Database: As president, Obama will create a "contracts and influence" database that will disclose how much federal contractors spend on lobbying, and what contracts they are getting and how well they complete them.
- Expose Special Interest Tax Breaks to Public Scrutiny: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure that any tax breaks for corporate recipients -- or tax earmarks -- are also publicly available on the Internet in an easily searchable format.
- End Abuse of No-Bid Contracts: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will end abuse of no-bid contracts by requiring that nearly all contract orders over $25,000 be competitively awarded.
- Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.
- Shine Light on Earmarks and Pork Barrel Spending: Obama's Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act will shed light on all earmarks by disclosing the name of the legislator who asked for each earmark, along with a written justification, 72 hours before they can be approved by the full Senate.
Bring Americans Back into their Government
- Hold 21st Century Fireside Chats: Obama will bring democracy and policy directly to the people by requiring his Cabinet officials to hold periodic national broadband townhall meetings to discuss issues before their agencies.
- Make White House Communications Public: Obama will amend executive orders to ensure that communications about regulatory policymaking between persons outside government and all White House staff are disclosed to the public.
- Conduct Regulatory Agency Business in Public: Obama will require his appointees who lead the executive branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public, so that any citizen can see these debates in person or watch them on the internet.
- Release Presidential Records: Obama and Biden will nullify attempts to make the timely release of presidential records more difficult.
Free the Executive Branch from Special Interest Influence
- Close the Revolving Door on Former and Future Employers: No political appointees in the Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.
- Free Career Officials from the Influence of Politics: Obama will issue an executive order asking all new hires at the agencies to sign a form affirming that no political appointee offered them the job solely on the basis of political affiliation or contribution.
- Reform the Political Appointee Process: FEMA Director Michael Brown was not qualified to head the agency, and the result was a disaster for the people of the Gulf Coast. But in the Obama-Biden administration, every official will have to rise to the standard of proven excellence in the agency's mission.
- Enforce Executive Branch Ethics: The Obama-Biden administration will give the Office of Governmental Ethics strong enforcement authority with the ability to make binding regulations, and it will work with inspectors general in all the federal agencies to enforce ethics rules, minimize waste and ensure federal officials are not using their offices for personal gain. The OGE will also be the clearinghouse of all public records relevant to ethics in the Executive Branch and place this information on its website. Finally, the OGE will promulgate rules and procedures to record all oral and in-person "lobbying contacts" between registered lobbyists and political appointees and make those records available to the public in a searchable computerized database.
Spend Taxpayer Money Wisely
- Performance Team and Chief Performance Officer: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create a focused team within the White House that will work with agency leaders and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to improve results and outcomes for federal government programs while eliminating waste and inefficiency. This unit, a SWAT team, will be composed of top-performing and highly-trained government professionals and be headed by a new Chief Performance Officer (CPO) who will report directly to the president. The CPO will work with federal agencies to set tough performance targets and hold managers responsible for progress. The president will meet regularly with cabinet officers to review the progress their agencies are making toward meeting performance improvement targets.
- Streamline Government Procurement: Barack Obama will implement the GAO's recommendations to reduce erroneous federal payments, reduce procurement costs with purchase cards, and implement better management of surplus federal property. These initiatives will save $4.5 billion a year.
- Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
- Line-by-Line Review of Spending: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will conduct an exhaustive line-by-line review of the federal budget, work to eliminate government programs that are not performing, and demand that new initiatives be selected on the basis of their merits -- not through a political process that rewards lobbyists and campaign donors.
- Slash Earmarks: Earmarks grew from $7.8 billion in 1994 to $29 billion in 2006. Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.
- Shed Sunlight on Corporate Tax Loopholes: The tax code is riddled with corporate loopholes and preferential regulations that benefit a handful of companies at the expense of the rest of the business community as well as ordinary families. Some large companies have managed to secure tax breaks or hide their profits in overseas tax havens to avoid paying any American corporate taxes at all. Obama and Biden will require any tax bill considered by Congress to include a Corporate Tax Impact Statement that would disclose which industries or specific companies would be expected to benefit from the new tax breaks.
"...[A]t the dawn of the 21st century we also have a collective responsibility to recommit ourselves to the dream; to strengthen that safety net, put the rungs back on that ladder to the middle-class, and give every family the chance that so many of our parents and grandparents had. This responsibility is one that's been missing from Washington for far too long -- a responsibility I intend to take very seriously as President."
The Obama-Biden Plan
The American dream is increasingly out of reach for many people. Americans with incomes below $100,000 have experienced stagnating wages, declining health care coverage, erosion of pension protections, rising personal debt, and jobs disappearing as a result of global competition and rising housing costs. Further, the gap between America’s richest and poorest is at its widest points in at least 25 years. At a time when costs are rising and Americans are working harder just to keep up, Barack Obama will provide relief for the middle class and support for working people. In addition to his health care and tax relief plans, Obama will make college affordable, reform our bankruptcy and credit card laws, protect the balance between work and family, and put a secure and dignified retirement within the reach of all Americans. Obama has been a strong advocate for working people throughout his public life, and he will stand up to special interests and bring America together to reclaim the American dream.
Support Working Families
- Provide a Making Work Pay Tax Cut for America's Working Families: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they need. Obama and Biden will create a new "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The Making Work Pay tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans.
- Raise the minimum wage: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation, and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs.
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: In both the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate, Obama has championed efforts to expand the EITC, which is one of the most successful anti-poverty programs to date. As president, Obama will reward work by increasing the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increasing the benefit available to parents who support their children through child support payments, and reducing the EITC marriage penalty which hurts low-income families. Under the Obama-Biden plan, full-time workers making minimum wage will get an EITC benefit up to $555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they get today. If the workers are responsibly supporting their children on child support, the Obama-Biden plan will give those workers a benefit of $1,110.
- Extend Paid Sick Days to All Workers: Half of all private sector workers have no paid sick days and the problem is worse for employees in low-paying jobs, where less than a quarter receive any paid sick days. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will require that employers provide seven paid sick days per year.
- Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA covers only certain people who work for employers with 50 or more employees. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees, and to cover more purposes including allowing: leave for workers who provide elder care; 24 hours of leave each year for parents to participate in their children's academic activities at school; leave for workers who care for individuals who reside in their home for 6 months or more; and leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault.
- Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave: As president, Barack Obama will initiate a 50 state strategy to encourage all of the states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama and Biden will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.
- Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children. They will include measures to maximize performance and effectiveness across grantees nationwide.
- Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
- Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination: Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will commit the government to enforcing recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.
- Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will address this concern by creating a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules for productivity and establishing positive workplaces; helping businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increasing federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama and Biden will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to petition to request flexible arrangements.
Strengthen Families at Home
- Strengthen Fatherhood and Families: Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. As president, Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.
- Support Parents with Young Children: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand programs like the successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. The Obama-Biden plan will assist approximately 570,000 first-time mothers each year.
“The cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and states of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on. . . . If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we'd see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies."
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama has been a strong advocate for sound budget practices and the reduction of wasteful spending in Washington. He is committed to fiscal transparency and accountability and ensuring that all new tax cuts and spending commitments are paid for without burdening our children and grandchildren with excessive debt. As president, Obama will fight to modernize government policies to secure and expand the middle class. He will keep taxes low for middle class and low-income families while also making the necessary investments to grow the American economy.
Restore Fiscal Discipline to Washington
- Reinstate PAYGO Rules: Obama and Biden believe that a critical step in restoring fiscal discipline is enforcing pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting rules which require new spending commitments or tax changes to be paid for by cuts to other programs or new revenue.
- Reverse Tax Cuts for the Wealthy: Obama and Biden will protect tax cuts for poor and middle class families, but they will reverse most of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.
- Cut Pork Barrel Spending: Obama introduced and passed bipartisan legislation that would require more disclosure and transparency for special-interest earmarks. Obama and Biden believe that spending that cannot withstand public scrutiny cannot be justified. Obama and Biden will slash earmarks to no greater than 1994 levels and ensure all spending decisions are open to the public.
- Make Government Spending More Accountable and Efficient: Obama and Biden will ensure that federal contracts over $25,000 are competitively bid. Obama and Biden will also increase the efficiency of government programs through better use of technology, stronger management that demands accountability and by leveraging the government's high-volume purchasing power to get lower prices.
- End Wasteful Government Spending: Obama and Biden will stop funding wasteful, obsolete federal government programs that make no financial sense. Obama and Biden have called for an end to subsidies for oil and gas companies that are enjoying record profits, as well as the elimination of subsidies to the private student loan industry which has repeatedly used unethical business practices. Obama and Biden will also tackle wasteful spending in the Medicare program.
Make the Tax System More Fair and Efficient
- End Tax Haven Abuse: Building on his bipartisan work in the Senate, Obama will give the Treasury Department the tools it needs to stop the abuse of tax shelters and offshore tax havens and help close the $350 billion tax gap between taxes owed and taxes paid.
- Close Special Interest Corporate Loopholes: Obama and Biden will level the playing field for all businesses by eliminating special interest loopholes and deductions, such as those for the oil and gas industry.
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will renew America’s security and standing in the world through a new era of American leadership. The Obama-Biden foreign policy will end the war in Iraq responsibly, finish the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, secure nuclear weapons and loose nuclear materials from terrorists, and renew American diplomacy to support strong alliances and to seek a lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Afghanistan and Pakistan
- Afghanistan: Obama and Biden will refocus American resources on the greatest threat to our security -- the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will increase our troop levels in Afghanistan, press our allies in NATO to do the same, and dedicate more resources to revitalize Afghanistan’s economic development. Obama and Biden will demand the Afghan government do more, including cracking down on corruption and the illicit opium trade.
- Pakistan: Obama and Biden will increase nonmilitary aid to Pakistan and hold them accountable for security in the border region with Afghanistan.
- A Record of Results: The gravest danger to the American people is the threat of a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon and the spread of nuclear weapons to dangerous regimes. Obama has taken bipartisan action to secure nuclear weapons and materials:
- He joined Senator Dick Lugar (R-In) in passing a law to help the United States and our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction throughout the world.
- He joined Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Ne) to introduce a bill that seeks to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, and stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
- Secure Loose Nuclear Materials from Terrorists: Obama and Biden will secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within four years. While working to secure existing stockpiles of nuclear material, Obama and Biden will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material. This will deny terrorists the ability to steal or buy loose nuclear materials.
- Strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Obama and Biden will crack down on nuclear proliferation by strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that countries like North Korea and Iran that break the rules will automatically face strong international sanctions.
- Move Toward a Nuclear Free World: Obama and Biden will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and pursue it. Obama and Biden will always maintain a strong deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist. But they will take several steps down the long road toward eliminating nuclear weapons. They will stop the development of new nuclear weapons; work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global.
- Diplomacy: Barack Obama supports tough and direct diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to use the power of American diplomacy to pressure Iran to stop their illicit nuclear program, support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel. Obama and Biden will offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. In carrying out this diplomacy, we will coordinate closely with our allies and proceed with careful preparation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.
- Achieving Energy Security: Obama will put America on a path to energy independence by investing $150 billion in renewable and alternative energy over the next ten years -- an investment that will create millions of jobs along the way. He’ll also make the U.S. a leader in the global effort to combat climate change by leading a new international global warming partnership.
Renewing American Diplomacy
- Renew our Alliances: Obama and Biden will rebuild our alliances to meet the common challenges of the 21st century. America is strongest when we act alongside strong partners. Now is the time for a new era of international cooperation that strengthens old partnerships and builds new ones to confront the common challenges of the 21st century -- terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.
- Talk to our Foes and Friends: Obama and Biden will pursue tough, direct diplomacy without preconditions with all nations, friend and foe. They will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America is ready to come to the table and is willing to lead. And if America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges like confronting terrorism and Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs.
- Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Obama and Biden will make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key diplomatic priority from day one. They will make a sustained push -- working with Israelis and Palestinians -- to achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security.
- Expand our Diplomatic Presence: To make diplomacy a priority, Obama and Biden will stop shuttering consulates and start opening them in difficult corners of the world -- particularly in Africa. They will expand our foreign service, and develop our civilian capacity to work alongside the military.
- Fight Global Poverty: Obama and Biden will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to achieve that goal. This will help the world's weakest states build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets, and generate wealth.
- Seek New Partnerships in Asia: Obama and Biden will forge a more effective framework in Asia that goes beyond bilateral agreements, occasional summits, and ad hoc arrangements, such as the six-party talks on North Korea. They will maintain strong ties with allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia; work to build an infrastructure with countries in East Asia that can promote stability and prosperity; and work to ensure that China plays by international rules.
- Ensure a Strong U.S.-Israel Partnership: Barack Obama and Joe Biden strongly support the U.S.-Israel relationship, and believe that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must be to the security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the region. They support this closeness, and have stated that the United States will never distance itself from Israel.
- Support Israel's Right to Self Defense: During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel's right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria's involvement in the war, and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. He and Joe Biden believe strongly in Israel's right to protect its citizens.
- Support Foreign Assistance to Israel: Barack Obama and Joe Biden have consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel. They defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. They have called for continuing U.S. cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defense systems.
Bipartisanship and Openness
- A Record of Bringing People Together: In the Senate, Obama has worked with Republicans and Democrats to advance important policy initiatives on securing weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons, increasing funding for nonproliferation, and countering instability in Congo.
- Consultative Group: Obama and Biden will convene a bipartisan Consultative Group of leading members of Congress to foster better executive-legislative relations and bipartisan unity on foreign policy. This group will be comprised of the congressional leadership of both political parties, and the chair and ranking members of the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence, and Appropriations Committees. This group will meet with the president once a month to review foreign policy priorities, and will be consulted in advance of military action.
- Getting Politics out of Intelligence: Obama will insulate the Director of National Intelligence from political pressure by giving the DNI a fixed term, like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Obama and Biden will seek consistency and integrity at the top of our intelligence community -- not just a political ally.
- Change the Culture of Secrecy: Obama will institute a National Declassification Center to make declassification secure but routine, efficient, and cost-effective.
- Engaging the American People on Foreign Policy: Obama and Biden will bring foreign policy decisions directly to the people by requiring their national security officials to have periodic national broadband town hall meetings to discuss foreign policy. Obama will personally deliver Your Weekly Address via webcast.
The Obama-Biden Plan
On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong, and that’s why they’ve proposed a plan that strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies accountable and ensures patient choice of doctor and care without government interference.
The Obama-Biden plan provides affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system, and uses existing providers, doctors, and plans. Under the Obama-Biden plan, patients will be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being blocked by insurance company bureaucrats.
Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.
Make Health Insurance Work for People and Businesses -- Not Just Insurance and Drug Companies.
- Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
- Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
- Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
- Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
- Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees' health care.
- Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
- Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.
Reduce Costs and Save a Typical American Family up to $2,500 as reforms phase in:
- Lower drug costs by allowing the importation of safe medicines from other developed countries, increasing the use of generic drugs in public programs, and taking on drug companies that block cheaper generic medicines from the market.
- Require hospitals to collect and report health care cost and quality data.
- Reduce the costs of catastrophic illnesses for employers and their employees.
- Reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that drives up prices without improving quality of care.
The Obama-Biden plan will promote public health. It will require coverage of preventive services, including cancer screenings, and increase state and local preparedness for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
A Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility: Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.
"We are here to do the work that ensures no other family members have to lose a loved one to a terrorist who turns a plane into a missile, a terrorist who straps a bomb around her waist and climbs aboard a bus, a terrorist who figures out how to set off a dirty bomb in one of our cities. This is why we are here: to make our country safer and make sure the nearly 3,000 who were taken from us did not die in vain; that their legacy will be a more safe and secure Nation."
The first responsibility of any president is to protect the American people. As president, Barack Obama will provide the leadership and strategies to strengthen our security at home.
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden's strategy for securing the homeland against 21st century threats is focused on preventing terrorist attacks on our homeland, preparing and planning for emergencies and investing in strong response and recovery capabilities. Obama and Biden will strengthen our homeland against all hazards -– including natural or accidental disasters and terrorist threats -- and ensure that the federal government works with states, localities, and the private sector as a true partner in prevention, mitigation, and response.
Defeat Terrorism Worldwide
- Find, Disrupt, and Destroy Al Qaeda: Responsibly end the war in Iraq and focus on the right battlefield in Afghanistan. Work with other nations to strengthen their capacity to eliminate shared enemies.
- New Capabilities to Aggressively Defeat Terrorists: Improve the American intelligence apparatus by investing in its capacity to collect and analyze information, share information with other agencies and carry out operations to disrupt terrorist networks.
- Prepare the Military to Meet 21st Century Threats: Ensure that our military becomes more stealthy, agile, and lethal in its ability to capture or kill terrorists. Bolster our military's ability to speak different languages, navigate different cultures, and coordinate complex missions with our civilian agencies.
- Win the Battle of Ideas: Defeat al Qaeda in the battle of ideas by returning to an American foreign policy consistent with America's traditional values, and work with moderates within the Islamic world to counter al Qaeda propaganda. Establish a $2 billion Global Education Fund to work to eliminate the global education deficit and offer an alternative to extremist schools.
- Restore American Influence and Restore Our Values: Stop shuttering consulates and start opening them in the tough and hopeless corners of the world. Expand our foreign service, and develop the capacity of our civilian aid workers to work alongside the military.
Prevent Nuclear Terrorism
Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a comprehensive strategy for nuclear security that will reduce the danger of nuclear terrorism, prevent the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities, and strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime. They will:
- Secure Nuclear Weapons Materials in Four Years and End Nuclear Smuggling: Lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons materials at vulnerable sites within four years -- the most effective way to prevent terrorists from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Fully implement the Lugar-Obama legislation to help our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction.
- Strengthen Policing and Interdiction Efforts: Institutionalize the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a global initiative aimed at stopping shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide.
- Convene a Summit on Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Convene a summit in 2009 (and regularly thereafter) of leaders of Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and other key countries to agree on preventing nuclear terrorism.
- Eliminate Iran's and North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Programs Through Tough, Direct Diplomacy: Use tough diplomacy -- backed by real incentives and real pressures -- to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to eliminate fully and verifiably North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
- Strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Seek to ensure that the Agency gets the authority, information, people, and technology it needs to do its job.
- Control Fissile Materials: Lead a global effort to negotiate a verifiable treaty ending the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes.
- Prevent Nuclear Fuel from Becoming Nuclear Bombs: Work with other interested governments to establish a new international nuclear energy architecture -- including an international nuclear fuel bank, international nuclear fuel cycle centers, and reliable fuel supply assurances -- to meet growing demands for nuclear power without contributing to proliferation.
- Set the Goal of a Nuclear-Free World: Show the world that America believes in its existing commitment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to work to ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons. America will not disarm unilaterally.
- Seek Real, Verifiable Reductions in Nuclear Stockpiles: Seek deep, verifiable reductions in all U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons and work with other nuclear powers to reduce global stockpiles dramatically.
- Work with Russia to Increase Warning and Decision Time: Work with Russia to end dangerous Cold War policies like keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment’s notice, in a mutual and verifiable manner.
- Appoint White House Coordinator for Nuclear Security: Appoint a deputy national security advisor to be in charge of coordinating all U.S. programs aimed at reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism and weapons proliferation.
- Strengthen Nuclear Risk Reduction Work at Defense, State, and Energy Departments: Expand our foreign service, and develop the capacity of our civilian aid workers to work alongside the military. Thwarting terrorist networks requires international partnerships in military, intelligence, law enforcement, financial transactions, border controls, and transportation security.
Strengthen American Biosecurity
Biological weapons pose a serious and increasing national security risk. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work to prevent bioterror attacks and mitigate consequences. They will:
- Prevent Bioterror Attacks: Strengthen U.S. intelligence collection overseas to identify and interdict would-be bioterrorists before they strike.
- Build Capacity to Mitigate the Consequences of Bioterror Attacks: Ensure that decision-makers have the information and communication tools they need to manage disease outbreaks by linking health care providers, hospitals, and public health agencies. A well-planned, well-rehearsed, and rapidly executed epidemic response can dramatically diminish the consequences of biological attacks.
- Accelerate the Development of New Medicines, Vaccines, and Production Capabilities: Build on America's unparalleled talent to create new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests and to manufacture them more quickly and efficiently.
- Lead an International Effort to Diminish Impact of Major Infectious Disease Epidemics: Promote international efforts to develop new diagnostics, vaccines, and medicines that will be available and affordable in all parts of the world.
Protect Our Information Networks
Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- working with private industry, the research community and our citizens -- will lead an effort to build a trustworthy and accountable cyber infrastructure that is resilient, protects America's competitive advantage, and advances our national and homeland security. They will:
- Strengthen Federal Leadership on Cyber Security: Declare the cyber infrastructure a strategic asset and establish the position of national cyber advisor who will report directly to the president and will be responsible for coordinating federal agency efforts and development of national cyber policy.
- Initiate a Safe Computing R&D Effort and Harden our Nation's Cyber Infrastructure: Support an initiative to develop next-generation secure computers and networking for national security applications. Work with industry and academia to develop and deploy a new generation of secure hardware and software for our critical cyber infrastructure.
- Protect the IT Infrastructure That Keeps America's Economy Safe: Work with the private sector to establish tough new standards for cyber security and physical resilience.
- Prevent Corporate Cyber-Espionage: Work with industry to develop the systems necessary to protect our nation's trade secrets and our research and development. Innovations in software, engineering, pharmaceuticals and other fields are being stolen online from U.S. businesses at an alarming rate.
- Develop a Cyber Crime Strategy to Minimize the Opportunities for Criminal Profit: Shut down the mechanisms used to transmit criminal profits by shutting down untraceable Internet payment schemes. Initiate a grant and training program to provide federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to detect and prosecute cyber crime.
- Mandate Standards for Securing Personal Data and Require Companies to Disclose Personal Information Data Breaches: Partner with industry and our citizens to secure personal data stored on government and private systems. Institute a common standard for securing such data across industries and protect the rights of individuals in the information age.
Improve Intelligence Capacity and Protect Civil Liberties
- Improve Information Sharing and Analysis: Improve our intelligence system by creating a senior position to coordinate domestic intelligence gathering, establishing a grant program to support thousands more state and local level intelligence analysts, and increasing our capacity to share intelligence across all levels of government.
- Give Real Authority to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board: Support efforts to strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board with subpoena powers and reporting responsibilities. Give the Board a robust mandate designed to protect American civil liberties and demand transparency from the Board to ensure accountability.
- Strengthen Institutions to Fight Terrorism: Establish a Shared Security Partnership Program overseas to invest $5 billion over three years to improve cooperation between U.S. and foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Protect Americans from Terrorist Attacks and Natural Disasters
- Allocate Funds Based on Risk: Allocate our precious homeland security dollars according to risk, not as pork-barrel spending or a form of general revenue sharing. Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse that cost the nation billions of Department of Homeland Security dollars.
- Prepare Effective Emergency Response Plans: Further improve coordination between all levels of government, create better evacuation plan guidelines, ensure prompt federal assistance to emergency zones, and increase medical surge capacity.
- Support First Responders: Increase federal resources and logistic support to local emergency planning efforts.
- Improve Interoperable Communications Systems: Support efforts to provide greater technical assistance to local and state first responders and dramatically increase funding for reliable, interoperable communications systems. Appoint a National Chief Technology Officer to ensure that the current non-interoperable plans at the federal, state, and local levels are combined, funded, implemented and effective.
- Working with State and Local Governments and the Private Sector: Make the federal government a better partner to states and localities, one that listens to local concerns and considers local priorities. Reach out to the private sector to leverage its expertise and assets to protect our homeland security.
Protect Critical Infrastructure
- Create a National Infrastructure Protection Plan: Develop an effective critical infrastructure protection and resiliency plan for the nation and work with the private sector to ensure that targets are protected against all hazards.
- Secure our Chemical Plants: Work with all stakeholders to enact permanent federal chemical plant security regulations.
- Improve Airline Security: Redouble our efforts to adequately address the threats our nation continues to face from airplane-based terrorism.
- Monitor our Ports: Redouble our efforts to develop technology that can detect radiation and work with the maritime transportation industry to deploy this technology to maximize security without causing economic disruption.
- Safeguard Public Transportation: Work to protect the public transportation systems Americans use to get to work, school and beyond every day.
- Improve Border Security: Support the virtual and physical infrastructure and manpower necessary to secure our borders and keep our nation safe.
Modernize America's Aging Infrastructure
- Build-in Security: Ensure that security is considered and built into the design of new infrastructure, so that our critical assets are protected from the start and more resilient to naturally-occurring and deliberate threats throughout their life-cycle.
- Create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank: Address the infrastructure challenge by creating a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank of $60 billion over 10 years, to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments. This independent entity will be directed to invest in our nation's most challenging transportation infrastructure needs, without the influence of special interests.
- Invest in Critical Infrastructure Projects: Invest in our nation's most pressing short and long-term infrastructure needs, including modernizing our electrical grid and upgrading our highway, rail, ports, water, and aviation infrastructure. Establish a Grid Modernization Commission to facilitate adoption of Smart Grid practices to improve efficiency and security of our electricity grid.
"The time to fix our broken immigration system is now… We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace… But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America… Where we can reunite families, we should. Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should."
May 23, 2007
The Obama-Biden Plan
For too long, politicians in Washington have exploited the immigration issue to divide the nation rather than find real solutions. Our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our border, enforces our laws, and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants.
Create Secure Borders: Protect the integrity of our borders. Support additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.
Improve Our Immigration System: Fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increase the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill.
Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally: Remove incentives to enter the country illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
Bring People Out of the Shadows: Support a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.
Work with Mexico: Promote economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration.
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will responsibly end the war in Iraq so that we can renew our military strength, dedicate more resources to the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and invest in our economy at home. The Obama-Biden plan will help us succeed in Iraq by transitioning to Iraqi control of their country.
Judgment You Can Trust
In 2002, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against going to war, and to warn of "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences." He and Joe Biden are fully committed to ending the war in Iraq.
A Responsible, Phased Withdrawal
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month -- which would remove all of them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 -- more than 7 years after the war began.
Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.
Encouraging Political Accommodation
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that the U.S. must apply pressure on the Iraqi government to work toward real political accommodation. There is no military solution to Iraq’s political differences. Now is the time to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future and to invest their oil revenues in their own reconstruction.
Obama and Biden's plan will help create lasting stability in Iraq. A phased withdrawal will encourage Iraqis to take the lead in securing their own country and making political compromises, while the responsible pace of redeployment called for by the Obama-Biden plan offers more than enough time for Iraqi leaders to get their own house in order. As our forces redeploy, Obama and Biden will make sure we engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society -- in and out of government -- to forge compromises on oil revenue sharing, the equitable provision of services, federalism, the status of disputed territories, new elections, aid to displaced Iraqis, and the reform of Iraqi security forces.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will launch an aggressive diplomatic effort to reach a comprehensive compact on the stability of Iraq and the region. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors -- including Iran and Syria, as suggested by the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group Report. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction and development.
Preventing Humanitarian Crisis
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that America has both a moral obligation and a responsibility for security that demands we confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis -- more than five million Iraqis are refugees or are displaced inside their own country. Obama and Biden will form an international working group to address this crisis. They will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find sanctuary. Obama and Biden will also work with Iraqi authorities and the international community to hold accountable the perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. They will reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq.
The Status-of-Forces Agreement
Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home.
“I'm in this race for the same reason that I fought for jobs for the jobless and hope for the hopeless on the streets of Chicago; for the same reason I fought for justice and equality as a civil rights lawyer; for the same reason that I fought for Illinois families for over a decade… That's why I'm running, Democrats -- to keep the American Dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity, who still thirst for equality.”
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama has been a lifelong advocate for the poor -- as a young college graduate, he rejected the high salaries of corporate America and moved to the South Side of Chicago to work as a community organizer. As an organizer, Obama worked with churches, Chicago residents, and local government to set up job training programs for the unemployed and after-school programs for kids. As president, he will use his life experiences to fight poverty and improve opportunities for poor families all across America. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will lead a new federal approach to America's high-poverty areas, an approach that facilitates the economic integration of families and communities with efforts to support the current low-income residents of those areas.
Expand Access to Jobs
- Help Americans Grab a Hold of and Climb the Job Ladder: Obama and Biden will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.
- Create a Green Jobs Corps: Obama and Biden will create a program to directly engage disadvantaged youth in energy efficiency opportunities to strengthen their communities, while also providing them with practical skills in this important high-growth career field.
- Improve Transportation Access to Jobs: As president, Obama will work to ensure that low-income Americans have transportation access to jobs. Obama will double funding for the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute program to ensure that additional federal public transportation dollars flow to the highest-need communities and that urban planning initiatives take this aspect of transportation policy into account.
- Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Supports: Obama and Biden will work to ensure that ex-offenders have access to job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling, and employment opportunities. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program and reduce barriers to employment.
Make Work Pay for All Americans
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will increase the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increase the benefits available to parents who support their children through child support payments, increase benefits for families with three or more children, and reduce the EITC marriage penalty, which hurts low-income families.
- Raise the Minimum Wage to $9.50 an Hour by 2011: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that people who work full-time should not live in poverty. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage's real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama will further raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing -- things so many people take for granted.
- Provide Tax Relief: Obama and Biden will provide all low and middle-income workers a $500 Making Work Pay tax credit to offset the payroll tax those workers pay in every paycheck. Obama and Biden will also eliminate taxes for seniors making under $50,000 per year.
- Promote Responsible Fatherhood: Obama will sign into law his Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, and ensure that payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies.
- Support Parents with Young Children: Obama and Biden will expand the highly-successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all 570,000 low-income, first-time mothers each year. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families.
- Expand Paid Sick Days: Today, three-out-of-four low-wage workers have no paid sick days. Obama and Biden support guaranteeing workers seven paid sick days per year.
Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing
- Supports Affordable Housing Trust Fund: Obama has supported efforts to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to develop affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods.
- Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant: Obama and Biden will fully fund the Community Development Block Grant program and engage with urban leaders across the country to increase resources to the highest-need Americans.
Tackle Concentrated Poverty
- Establish 20 Promise Neighborhoods: Obama and Biden will create 20 Promise Neighborhoods in areas that have high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of student academic achievement in cities across the nation. The Promise Neighborhoods will be modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, which provides an entire neighborhood with a full network of services from birth to college, including early childhood education, youth violence prevention efforts, and after-school activities.
- Ensure Community-Based Investment Resources in Every Urban Community: Obama and Biden will work with community and business leaders to identify and address the unique economic development barriers of every major metropolitan area. Obama and Biden will provide additional resources to the federal Community Development Financial Institution Fund, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies, especially to their local branch offices, to address community needs.
- Invest in Rural Areas: Obama and Biden will invest in rural small businesses and fight to expand high-speed Internet access. They will improve rural schools and attract more doctors to rural areas. And they will implement a bold climate change and energy independence plan that will revitalize rural America through new investments in renewable energy production, including wind, solar, and biofuel investments.
The Obama-Biden Plan
Rural communities face numerous challenges but also economic opportunities unlike anything we have witnessed in modern history. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that together we can ensure a bright future for rural America. They will help family famers and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy.
Ensure Economic Opportunity for Family Farmers
- Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. Implement a $250,000 payment limitation so we help family farmers -- not large corporate agribusiness. Close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around payment limits.
- Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Pass a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices.
- Regulate CAFOs: Strictly regulate pollution from large factory livestock farms, with fines for those that violate tough standards. Support meaningful local control.
- Establish Country of Origin Labeling: Implement Country of Origin Labeling so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones.
- Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. Promote regional food systems.
- Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. Provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.
- Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests.
Support Rural Economic Development
- Support Small Business Development: Provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants. Establish a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America.
- Connect Rural America: Modernize an FCC program that supports rural phone service so that it promotes affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well.
- Promote Leadership in Renewable Energy: Ensure that our rural areas continue their leadership in the renewable fuels movement.
Improve Rural Quality Of Life
- Combat Methamphetamine: Continue the fight to rid our communities of meth and offer support to help addicts heal.
- Improve Healthcare: Work to ensure a more equitable Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement structure that often gives rural healthcare providers less money for the very same procedure performed in urban areas. Attract providers to rural America by creating a loan forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural areas. Promote health information technologies like telemedicine.
- Improve Rural Education: Provide incentives for talented individuals to enter the teaching profession, including increased pay for teachers who work in rural areas. Create a Rural Revitalization Program to attract young people to rural America and retain them. Increase research and educational funding for Land Grant colleges.
- Upgrade Rural Infrastructure: Invest in the core infrastructure -- roads, bridges, locks, dams, water systems and essential air service -- that rural communities need.
Seniors and Social Security
The Obama-Biden Plan
Protect Social Security
Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to ensuring Social Security is solvent and viable for the American people, now and in the future. Obama and Biden will be honest with the American people about the long-term solvency of Social Security and the ways we can address the shortfall. They will protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike, and they do not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age. Obama and Biden are strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security. As part of a bipartisan plan that would be phased in over many years, they will ask those making over $250,000 to contribute a bit more to Social Security to keep it sound. Obama does not support uncapping the full payroll tax 12.4 percent rate. Instead, he and Joe Biden are considering plans that will ask those making over $250,000 to pay in the range of 2 to 4 percent more in total (combined employer and employee).
Strengthen Retirement Savings
- Reform Corporate Bankruptcy Laws to Protect Workers and Retirees: Current bankruptcy laws protect banks before workers. Obama and Biden will protect pensions by putting promises to workers higher on the list of debts that companies cannot shed; ensuring that the bankruptcy courts do not demand more sacrifice from workers than executives; telling companies that they cannot issue executive bonuses while cutting worker pensions; increasing the amount of unpaid wages and benefits workers can claim in court; and limiting the circumstances under which retiree benefits can be reduced.
- Require Full Disclosure of Company Pension Investments: Obama and Biden will ensure that all employees who have company pensions receive detailed annual disclosures about their pension fund's investments. This will provide retirees important resources to make their pension fund more secure.
- Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less Than $50,000: Obama and Biden will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will provide an immediate tax cut averaging $1,400 to 7 million seniors and relieve millions from the burden of filing tax returns.
- Create Automatic Workplace Pensions: The Obama-Biden retirement security plan will automatically enroll workers in a workplace pension plan. Under their plan, employers who do not currently offer a retirement plan will be required to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA account that is compatible with existing direct-deposit payroll systems. Employees may opt-out if they choose. Experts estimate that this program will increase the savings participation rate for low and middle-income workers from its current 15 percent level to around 80 percent.
- Expand Retirement Savings Incentives for Working Families: Obama and Biden will ensure savings incentives are fair to all workers by creating a generous savings match for low and middle-income Americans. Their plan will match 50 percent of the first $1,000 of savings for families that earn less than $75,000. The savings match will be automatically deposited into designated personal accounts. Over 80 percent of these savings incentives will go to new savers.
- Prevent Age Discrimination: Obama and Biden will fight job discrimination for aging employees by strengthening the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and empowering the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to prevent all forms of discrimination.
Affordable Health Care
- Provide Cheaper Prescription Drugs: Our seniors pay the highest prices in the world for brand-name drugs. To lower drug costs, Obama and Biden will allow the federal government to negotiate for lower drug prices for the Medicare program, just as it does to lower prices for our veterans. They also support allowing seniors to import safe prescription drugs from overseas, and will prevent pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheap and safe generic drugs from the market.
- Protect and Strengthen Medicare: Obama and Biden are committed to the long-term strength of the Medicare program. They will reduce waste in the Medicare system -- in part by eliminating subsidies to the private insurance Medicare Advantage program -- and tackle fundamental health care reform to improve the quality and efficiency of our healthcare system. They support closing the "doughnut hole" in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.
- Provide Transparency to Medicare Prescription Drug Plans: Many seniors are enrolled in Medicare prescription drug plans that are actually more expensive for them than other available plans. Obama and Biden will require companies to send Medicare beneficiaries a full list of the drugs and fees they paid the previous year to help seniors determine which plans can better reduce their out-of-pocket costs and improve their health.
- Strengthen Long-Term Care Options: Obama and Biden will work to give seniors choices about their care, consistent with their needs, and not biased towards institutional care. They will work to reform the financing of long term care to protect seniors and families, and to improve the quality of elder care by training more nurses and health care workers.
Protect and Honor Seniors
- Ensure Heating Assistance: Obama and Biden will increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which helps low-income citizens -- many of them seniors -- pay their winter heating and summer cooling bills.
- Support Senior Volunteer Efforts: Retired Americans have a wide range of skills and knowledge to contribute to local and national public service efforts. Obama and Biden will engage more interested seniors in public service opportunities by expanding and improving programs like Senior Corps to connect seniors with quality volunteer opportunities.
"Your own story and the American story are not separate -- they are shared. And they will both be enriched if we stand up together, and answer a new call to service to meet the challenges of our new century … I won't just ask for your vote as a candidate; I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or program; this will be a cause of my presidency."
December 5, 2007
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama began his career on the South Side of Chicago, working with a coalition of churches to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods. During the election, people all across the country talked about feeling a new sense of civic engagement and got involved in politics for the first time. Now, Obama and Joe Biden are counting on Americans from all walks of life to serve the nation and help address the problems we face -- and they're committed to building the infrastructure and providing the resources that will make it possible.
Enable All Americans to Serve to Meet the Nation's Challenges
- Expand Corporation for National and Community Service: Expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots to 250,000 and focus this expansion on addressing the great challenges facing the nation -- helping teachers and students in underserved schools; improving public health outreach; weatherizing homes and launching renewable energy projects; assisting veterans; and helping communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
- Engage Retiring Americans in Service on a Large Scale: Expand and improve programs that connect individuals over the age of 55 to quality volunteer opportunities.
- Expand the Peace Corps: Double the Peace Corps to 16,000 by 2011. Build an international network of overseas volunteers so that Americans work side-by-side with volunteers from other countries.
- Show the World the Best Face of America: Set up an America's Voice Initiative to deploy Americans who are fluent speakers of local languages for public diplomacy. Extend opportunities for older individuals such as teachers, engineers, and doctors to serve overseas.
Integrate Service into Learning
- Expand Service-Learning in Our Nation's Schools: Set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year. Develop national guidelines for service learning and give schools better tools both to develop programs and to document student experience.
- Expand Youth Programs: Create an energy-focused youth jobs program to provide disadvantaged youth with service opportunities weatherizing buildings and getting practical experience in fast-growing career fields. Expand the YouthBuild program to give 50,000 disadvantaged young people the chance to complete their high school education, learn valuable skills and build affordable housing in their communities.
- Require 100 Hours of Service in College: Establish a new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.
- Promote College Serve-Study: Ensure that at least 25 percent of College Work-Study funds are used to support public service opportunities instead of jobs in dining halls and libraries.
Invest in the Nonprofit Sector
- Create a Social Investment Fund Network: Use federal seed money to leverage private sector funding to improve local innovation, test the impact of new ideas, and expand successful programs to scale.
- Social Entrepreneurship Agency for Nonprofits: Create an agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s tax plan delivers broad-based tax relief to middle class families and cuts taxes for small businesses and companies that create jobs in America, while restoring fairness to our tax code and returning to fiscal responsibility. Coupled with Obama and Biden's commitment to invest in key areas like health, clean energy, innovation, and education, their tax plan will help restore bottom-up economic growth that creates good jobs in America and empowers all families to achieve the American dream.
Obama’s Comprehensive Tax Policy Plan for America will:
- Cut taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families with a tax cut of $500 for workers or $1,000 for working couples.
- Provide generous tax cuts for low- and middle-income seniors, homeowners, the uninsured, and families sending a child to college or looking to save and accumulate wealth.
- Eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses, cut corporate taxes for firms that invest and create jobs in the United States, and provide tax credits to reduce the cost of healthcare and to reward investments in innovation.
- Dramatically simplify taxes by consolidating existing tax credits, eliminating the need for millions of senior citizens to file tax forms, and enabling as many as 40 million middle-class Americans to do their own taxes in less than five minutes without an accountant.
Under the Obama-Biden Plan:
- Middle class families will see their taxes cut -- and no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase. The typical middle class family will receive well over $1,000 in tax relief under the Obama-Biden plan, and will pay tax rates that are 20 percent lower than they faced under President Reagan.
- Families making more than $250,000 will pay either the same or lower tax rates than they paid in the 1990s. Obama will ask the wealthiest two percent of families to give back a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal responsibility. But no family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s.
- The Obama-Biden plan will cut taxes overall, reducing revenues to below the levels that prevailed under Ronald Reagan (less than 18.2 percent of GDP). The plan is a net tax cut -- his tax relief for middle class families is larger than the revenue raised by his tax changes for families over $250,000. Coupled with his commitment to cut unnecessary spending, Obama will pay for this tax relief while bringing down the budget deficit.
Impact of the Obama Tax Plan
|Married couple making $75,000 with two children, one of whom is in college||$3,700
[includes $1,000 Making Work Pay; $500 universal mortgage credit; and $4,000 college credit net of current college credits]
|Married couple making $90,000||$1,000
[$1,000 Making Work Pay tax credit]
|Single parent making $40,000 with two young children and childcare expenses||$2,100
[includes $500 Making Work Pay; $500 universal mortgage credit; and $1,100 from expansion of the child care tax credit]
|70-year-old widow making $35,000||$1,900
[reflects elimination of income taxes for seniors earning under $50,000]
Source: Calculations based on IRS Statistics of Income. Tax savings is conservative; does not account for up to $500 in savings from expanded Savers Credit and the $2,500 in savings per family from the Obama healthcare plan
"Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America."
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama and Joe Biden understand the immense transformative power of technology and innovation and how they can improve the lives of Americans. They will work to ensure the full and free exchange of information through an open Internet and use technology to create a more transparent and connected democracy. They will encourage the deployment of modern communications infrastructure to improve America's competitiveness and employ technology to solve our nation's most pressing problems -- including improving clean energy, healthcare costs, and public safety.
Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Ideas through an Open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets
- Protect the Openness of the Internet: Support the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.
- Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership: Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum.
- Protect Our Children While Preserving the First Amendment: Give parents the tools and information they need to control what their children see on television and the Internet in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment. Support tough penalties, increase enforcement resources and forensic tools for law enforcement, and encourage collaboration between law enforcement and the private sector to identify and prosecute people who try to exploit children online.
- Safeguard our Right to Privacy: Strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy.
Create a Transparent and Connected Democracy
- Open Up Government to its Citizens: Use cutting-edge technologies to create a new level of transparency, accountability, and participation for America's citizens.
- Bring Government into the 21st Century: Use technology to reform government and improve the exchange of information between the federal government and citizens while ensuring the security of our networks. Appoint the nation's first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure the safety of our networks and lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.
Deploy a Modern Communications Infrastructure
- Deploy Next-Generation Broadband: Work towards true broadband in every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives. America should lead the world in broadband penetration and Internet access.
Improve America's Competitiveness
- Promote American Businesses Abroad: Support a trade policy that ensures our goods and services are treated fairly in foreign markets. Fight for fair treatment of our companies abroad.
- Invest in the Sciences: Double federal funding for basic research over ten years, changing the posture of our federal government to one that embraces science and technology.
- Invest in University-Based Research: Expand research initiatives at American colleges and universities. Provide new research grants to the most outstanding early-career researchers in the country.
- Make the R&D Tax Credit Permanent: Invest in a skilled research and development workforce and technology infrastructure. Make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic R&D over multi-year timeframes.
- Ensure Competitive Markets: Foster a business and regulatory landscape in which entrepreneurs and small businesses can thrive, start-ups can launch, and all enterprises can compete effectively while investors and consumers are protected against bad actors that cross the line. Reinvigorate antitrust enforcement to ensure that capitalism works for consumers.
- Protect American Intellectual Property Abroad: Work to ensure intellectual property is protected in foreign markets, and promote greater cooperation on international standards that allow our technologies to compete everywhere.
- Protect American Intellectual Property at Home: Update and reform our copyright and patent systems to promote civic discourse, innovation, and investment while ensuring that intellectual property owners are fairly treated.
- Reform the Patent System: Ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration. Give the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) the resources to improve patent quality and open up the patent process to citizen review to help foster an environment that encourages innovation. Reduce uncertainty and wasteful litigation that is currently a significant drag on innovation.
- Restore Scientific Integrity to the White House: Restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on ideological predispositions.
Prepare All our Children for the 21st Century Economy
- Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. Work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
- Improve and Prioritize Science Assessments: Work with governors and educators to ensure that state assessments measure higher order thinking skills including inference, logic and data analysis, not just rote memorization of facts.
- Address the Dropout Crisis: Provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school -- strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
- Pinpoint College Aid for Math and Science Students: Launch an online database to give potential future scientists access to information about financial aid opportunities available in science and technology fields through the federal government and public or private resources.
- Increase Science and Math Graduates: Improve science and math education in K through 12 to prepare more students for these studies in college. Work to increase our number of science and engineering graduates and encourage undergraduates studying math and science to pursue graduate studies. Increase the representation of minorities and women in the science and technology pipeline, tapping the diversity of America to meet the increasing demand for a skilled workforce.
Prepare Adults for a Changing Economy
- Lifelong Retraining: Reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, and increase resources for community colleges and lifelong learning initiatives to ensure our citizens can continue to gain new skills throughout their lifetimes. Modernize and expand the existing system of trade adjustment assistance to include service sector workers hurt by changing trade patterns. Create flexible education accounts that workers can use to retrain.
- Build a Reliable Safety Net: Through their proposals on portable health care and retirement savings accounts and expanding unemployment insurance, Obama and Biden will work for programs that will help Americans facing job transitions in a fierce global economy.
Employ Science, Technology and Innovation to Solve Our Nation's Most Pressing Problems
21st-century technology and telecommunications have flattened communications and labor markets and have contributed to a period of unprecedented innovation, making us more productive, connected global citizens. By maximizing the power of technology, we can strengthen the quality and affordability of our health care, advance climate-friendly energy development and deployment, improve education throughout the country, and ensure that America remains the world's leader in technology. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will:
- Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems: Use health information technology to lower the cost of health care. Invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records.
- Invest in Climate-Friendly Energy Development and Deployment: Invest $150 billion over the next ten years to enable American engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid. This investment will transform the economy and create 5 million new jobs.
- Modernize Public Safety Networks: Spur the development and deployment of new technologies to promote interoperability, broadband access, and more effective communications among first responders and emergency response systems.
- Advance the Biomedical Research Field: Support investments in biomedical research, as well as medical education and training in health-related fields. Fund biomedical research, and make it more efficient by improving coordination both within government and across government/private/non-profit partnerships.
- Advance Stem Cell Research: Support increased stem cell research. Allow greater federal government funding on a wider array of stem cell lines.
"Americans work harder than the people of any other wealthy nation. We are willing to tolerate more economic instability and are willing to take more personal risks to get ahead. But we can only compete if our government makes the investments that give us a fighting chance -- and if we know our families have some net beneath which they cannot fall."
The Obama-Biden Plan
As a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, Barack Obama learned firsthand that urban poverty is more than just a function of not having enough in your pocketbook. It's also a matter of where you live -- in some of our inner-city neighborhoods, poverty is difficult to escape because it's isolating and it's everywhere. Our job across America is to create communities of choice, not of destiny, and create conditions for neighborhoods where the odds are not stacked against the people who live there. Barack Obama will lead a new federal approach to America's high-poverty areas, an approach that facilitates the economic integration of families and communities with efforts to support the current low-income residents of those areas.
Strengthen Federal Commitment to our Cities
- Create a White House Office on Urban Policy: Obama and Biden will create a White House Office of Urban Policy to develop a strategy for metropolitan America and to ensure that all federal dollars targeted to urban areas are effectively spent on the highest-impact programs. The Director of Urban Policy will report directly to the president and coordinate all federal urban programs.
- Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant: In the long run, regions are only as strong as their people and neighborhoods. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is an important program that provides housing and creates jobs primarily for low- and moderate-income people and places. Barack Obama will restore funding for the CDBG program.
- Do No Harm: Barack Obama and Joe Biden do not support imposing unfunded mandates on states and localities. They strongly support providing necessary funding for programs such as No Child Left Behind.
Stimulate Economic Prosperity in our Metropolitan Regions
- Support Regional Innovation Clusters: Thriving innovation clusters across the country like the North Carolina Research Triangle Park and Nashville's thriving entertainment cluster prove that local stakeholders can successfully come together and help reshape their local economies. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create a federal program to support "innovation clusters" -- regional centers of innovation and next-generation industries. This innovation clusters program will provide $200 million in planning and matching grants for regional business, government, and university leaders to collaborate on leveraging a region's existing assets -- from transportation infrastructure to universities -- to enhance long-term regional growth.
- Support Job Creation: The federal government has a role to play to ensure that every American is able to work at his or her highest capacity. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double federal funding for basic research, expand the deployment of broadband technology and make the research and development tax credit permanent so that businesses can invest in innovation and create high-paying, secure jobs.
- Enhance Workforce Training: Obama and Biden will make long-term investments in education, language training, and workforce development so that Americans can leverage our strengths -- our ingenuity and entrepreneurialism -- to create new high-wage jobs and prosper in a global economy. A critical part of this process is ensuring that we reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and ensure that it strengthens federal investments needed for success in the 21st Century.
- Increase Access to Capital for Underserved Businesses: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will strengthen Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to women and minority-owned businesses, support outreach programs that help business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of these firms. They will also strengthen Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which are engaged in innovative methods to provide capital to urban businesses.
- Create a National Network of Public-Private Business Incubators: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will support entrepreneurship and spur job growth by creating a national network of public-private business incubators, which facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in creating start-up companies. They will invest $250 million per year to increase the number and size of incubators in urban communities throughout the country.
- Convert our Manufacturing Centers into Clean Technology Leaders: America boasts the highest-skilled manufacturing workforce in the world and advanced manufacturing facilities that have powered economic growth in America for decades. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that America is at a competitive advantage when it comes to building the high-demand technologies of the future, and they will help nurture America's success in clean technology manufacturing by establishing a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize.
- Strengthen Core Infrastructure: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will make strengthening our transportation systems, including our roads and bridges, a top priority. As part of this effort, Obama and Biden will create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments. These projects will directly and indirectly create up to two million new jobs per year and stimulate approximately $35 billion per year in new economic activity.
- Improve Access to Jobs: America's families and businesses depend upon workers having reasonable access to their places of employment. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program to ensure that additional federal public transportation dollars flow to the highest-need communities and that urban planning initiatives take this aspect of transportation policy into account. The Obama-Biden urban agenda will also help facilitate the creation of new jobs in underserved economic areas, so more low-income urban residents can find employment within their home communities.
- Invest in a Skilled Clean Technologies Workforce: Obama and Biden will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable jobs. Obama and Biden will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.
- Lower Interest Payments by Creating a New Mortgage Interest Tax Credit: Many middle class Americans do not receive the existing mortgage interest tax deduction because they do not itemize their taxes. Obama and Biden will ensure that middle-class Americans get the financial assistance they need to purchase or keep their own home by creating a 10 percent universal mortgage credit that gives tax relief to 10 million Americans who have a home mortgage.
- Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing throughout Metropolitan Regions: Communities prosper when all families have access to affordable housing. Barack Obama and Joe Biden supported efforts to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to create thousands of new units of affordable housing every year. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will also restore cuts to public housing operating subsidies, and ensure that all Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs are restored to their original purpose.
- Establish 'Promise Neighborhoods' for Areas of Concentrated Poverty: Successful strategies to address concentrated, intergenerational poverty are comprehensive in nature and address the full range of obstacles that stand in the way of poor children. One highly-acclaimed model is the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, which provides a full network of services to an entire neighborhood from birth to college. Obama and Biden will create 20 Promise Neighborhoods in cities that have high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of student academic achievement.
- Increase the Minimum Wage: As president, Obama will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011 and index it to inflation so full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing -- things so many people take for granted.
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: In the Illinois State Senate, Obama led the successful effort to create the $100 million Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). As president, Obama will reward work by increasing the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increasing the benefit available to noncustodial parents who support their children through child support payments, increasing the benefit for families with three or more children, and reducing the EITC marriage penalty which hurts low-income families.
- Help Low-Income Workers Enter the Job Market: As president, Obama will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathways programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce. This investment will be coupled with other measures to encourage the private sector and state and local governments to increase their support of these effective employment programs.
Livability of Cities
- Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.
- Control Superfund Sites and Data: Obama and Biden will restore the strength of the Superfund program by requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of contaminated sites they created.
- Use Innovative Measures to Dramatically Improve Efficiency of Buildings: Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions in the United States today and carbon emissions from buildings are expected to grow faster than emissions from other major parts of our economy. It is expected that 15 million new buildings will be constructed between today and 2015. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work with cities so that we make our new and existing buildings more efficient consumers of electricity.
- Foster Healthy Communities: How a community is designed -- including the layout of its roads, buildings and parks -- has a huge impact on the health of its residents. For instance, nearly one-third of Americans live in neighborhoods without sidewalks and less than half of our country's children have a playground within walking distance of their homes. Barack Obama introduced the Healthy Places Act to help local governments assess the health impact of new policies and projects, like highways or shopping centers.
- Support Teachers in Urban Schools: Barack Obama and Joe Biden value teachers and the central role that they play in education. To ensure competent, effective teachers in schools that are organized for success, the Obama-Biden K-12 plan will expand service scholarships to underwrite high-quality preparation for teachers who commit to working in underserved districts and support ongoing improvements in teacher education.
- Expand Early Childhood Education: Obama and Biden's comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide support to young children and their parents by investing $10 billion per year to create Early Learning Challenge Grants to stimulate and help fund state "zero to five" efforts; quadruple the number of children eligible for Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding, and improve the quality of both; work to ensure all children have access to pre-school; and create a Presidential Early Learning Council to increase collaboration and coordination across federal, state, and local programs.
- Reduce the High School Dropout Rate: The warning signs for high school dropouts often occur well before high school. Obama will sign into law his Success in the Middle Act to improve the education of middle school students in low-performing schools. Obama and Biden will also establish a competitive grant process for entities pursuing evidence-based models that have been proven to reduce dropouts.
Crime and Law Enforcement
- Support Local Law Enforcement: Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to fully funding the COPS program to put 50,000 police officers on the street and help address police brutality and accountability issues in local communities. Obama and Biden also support efforts to encourage young people to enter the law enforcement profession, so that our local police departments are not understaffed because of a dearth of qualified applicants.
- Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Supports: America is facing an incarceration and post-incarceration crisis in urban communities. Obama and Biden will create a prison-to-work incentive program, modeled on the successful Welfare-to-Work Partnership, and work to reform correctional systems to break down barriers for ex-offenders to find employment.
- End the Dangerous Cycle of Youth Violence: Obama and Biden support innovative local programs, like the CeaseFire program in Chicago, which implement a community-based strategy to prevent youth violence and have been proven effective.
- Address Gun Violence in Cities: Obama and Biden would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent.
- Allocate Funds Based on Risk: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that the president and Congress should direct our precious homeland security dollars according to risk, not as a form of general revenue sharing. To address this pressing issue, Obama introduced an amendment, supported by the Families of 9/11 and former 9/11 Commissioners Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer, to increase risk-based funding in the 9/11 bill.
- Prepare Effective Emergency Response Plans: As our nation witnessed in the Hurricane Katrina crisis and its aftermath, too many localities do not have integrated emergency response plans to handle disasters. As president, Obama will further improve coordination between all levels of government, create better evacuation plan guidelines, ensure prompt federal assistance to emergency zones, and increase medical surge capacity.
- Improve Interoperable Communications Systems: Barack Obama and Joe Biden support efforts to provide greater technical assistance to local and state first responders and dramatically increase funding for reliable, interoperable communications systems.
- Safeguard Mass Public Transportation: Every weekday, Americans take 34 million trips on public transportation systems to get to work, school and beyond. Obama and Biden will fight for greater information-sharing between national intelligence agents and local officials and provide local law enforcement agencies with the everyday tools they need to protect their transportation systems.
- Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they deserve. They will create a new "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family.
- Strengthening Fatherhood and Families: As president, Obama will sign his Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act into law to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts.
- Support Parents with Young Children: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand the highly successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program.
- Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.
- Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.
- Cap Outlandish Interest Rates on Payday Loans and Improve Disclosure: In the wake of reports that some service members were paying 800 percent interest on payday loans, the U.S. Congress took bipartisan action to limit interest rates charged to service members to 36 percent. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we must extend this protection to all Americans, because predatory lending continues to be a major problem for low and middle income families alike.
- Encourage Responsible Lending Institutions to Make Small Consumer Loans: Some mainstream, responsible lending institutions are beginning to enter the short-term lending market to provide many Americans with fair alternatives to predatory lending institutions. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work with his Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to encourage banks, credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions to provide affordable short-term and small dollar loans -- and to drive the sharks out of business.
"Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America's commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end."
August 21, 2007
The Obama-Biden Plan
As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Barack Obama has fought to end benefit disparities, bring homeless veterans in off the street, strengthen mental health care, add billions of dollars in additional Department of Veterans Affairs funding, and reform a system that often places barriers between veterans and the benefits they have earned. Obama and Joe Biden will ensure we honor the sacred trust to care for our nation’s veterans.
A Sacred Trust
Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to creating a 21st Century Department of Veterans' Affairs that provides the care and benefits our nation's veterans deserve. They will:
- Allow All Veterans Back into the VA: Reverse the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans, which has denied care to a million veterans.
- Strengthen VA Care: Make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. Improve care for polytrauma vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women's health.
- Combat Homelessness among Our Nation's Veterans: Establish a national "zero tolerance" policy for veterans falling into homelessness by expanding proven programs and launching innovative services to prevent veterans from falling into homelessness.
- Fight Employment Discrimination: Crack down on employers who commit job discrimination against guardsmen and reservists.
Help for Returning Service Members
Obama and Biden will improve the quality of health care for veterans, rebuild the VA's broken benefits system, and combat homelessness among veterans. They will:
- Ensure a Seamless Transition: Demand that the military and the VA coordinate to provide a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life.
- Fully Fund VA Medical Care: Fully fund the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it. Establish a world-class VA Planning Division to avoid future budget shortfalls.
- Fix the Benefits Bureaucracy: Hire additional claims workers, and improve training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently. Transform the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness.
Improved Treatment for Mental Health and TBI
Obama and Biden will improve mental health treatment for troops and veterans suffering from combat-related psychological injuries. They will:
- Improve Mental Health Treatment: Recruit more health professionals, improve screening, offer more support to families and make PTSD benefits claims fairer.
- Improve Care for Traumatic Brain Injury: Establish standards of care for Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature injury of the Iraq war.
- Expand Vet Centers: Expand and strengthen Vet Centers to provide more counseling for vets and their families.
"From the first moment a woman dared to speak that hope -- dared to believe that the American Dream was meant for her too -- ordinary women have taken on extraordinary odds to give their daughters the chance for something else; for a life more equal, more free, and filled with more opportunity than they ever had. In so many ways we have succeeded, but in so many areas we have much work left to do."
November 10, 2005
The Obama-Biden Plan
Barack Obama has a long record of standing up for women. In Illinois, he passed the Equal Pay Act to give 330,000 more women protection from pay discrimination and passed another law that ensured victims of domestic violence could seek treatment without losing their jobs. In the U.S. Senate, he introduced and sponsored legislation to reduce unintended teen pregnancy, strengthen families by supporting fathers who are doing the right thing and cracking down on those who are not, guarantee workers paid sick leave, and ensure that women are not receiving less pay than men for comparable work. And throughout his career, in both the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate, Obama has stood up for a woman’s right to choose.
- Fixing the Nation's Health Care System: More than 19 million women are uninsured in this country, and women are more likely than men to delay or not get medical care because of high costs. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to ensuring that all Americans have health care coverage by the end of their first term in office. The Obama-Biden plan will encourage insurers and providers to adopt electronic claims systems, electronic medical records, and patient safety reporting systems. These improvements will reduce administrative costs and health care inefficiencies such as duplicative testing and medical errors, which in turn will reduce costly medical malpractice lawsuits. These common sense steps will cut overall health care costs by up to 10 percent or more.
- Empowering Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last twenty years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Women of color are especially hard hit: In 2004, HIV infection was the leading cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34. Around the world, 7,000 women are infected with HIV every day. Barack Obama has been a leader in the global fight against AIDS. He introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.
- Supporting Research into Women's Health: Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women, accounting for nearly 39 percent of all female deaths. Studies show that after a first heart attack, women are less likely than men to receive diagnostic, therapeutic, and cardiac rehabilitation procedures, and are more likely to die or have a second heart attack. Women are also more likely than men to report having arthritis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and depression. Health care disparities among minority and poor women are especially pervasive. Barack Obama has fought to maintain funding for the Centers of Excellence in Women's Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. He also supports legislation to encourage research that will examine gender and health disparities. The same legislation would establish community outreach programs in underserved areas to help women access health care and maintain healthy lifestyles.
- Fighting Cancer: Ovarian cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the United States. Because of the lack of early symptoms or a proven screening test, ovarian cancer also has the highest mortality of all cancers of the female reproductive system. Barack Obama is an original co-sponsor of Johanna's Law, a piece of legislation signed into law in January 2007 that will educate women and increase awareness of ovarian cancer. Obama has also supported efforts to combat breast cancer, another leading cause of death among women. He helped pass legislation in the Illinois State Senate to expand insurance coverage for mammograms.
- Reducing Health Risks Due to Mercury Pollution: More than five million women of childbearing age have high levels of toxic mercury in their blood and more than 630,000 newborns are born every year at risk. The EPA estimates that every year, more than one child in six could be at risk for developmental disorders because of mercury exposure in the mother's womb. Since the primary sources of mercury in fish are power plant emissions that contaminate our water, regulation of utility emissions is essential to protecting the health of our children. Barack Obama introduced two pieces of legislation to significantly reduce the amount of mercury that is deposited in oceans, lakes, and rivers, which in turn would reduce the amount of mercury in fish.
- Supporting Stem Cell Research: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that we owe it to the American public to explore the potential of stem cells to treat the millions of people suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases. Obama is a co-sponsor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which will allow research of human embryonic stem cells derived from embryos donated (with consent) from in vitro fertilization clinics. These embryos must be deemed in excess and created based solely for the purpose of fertility treatment.
- Supports a Woman's Right to Choose: Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.
- Preventing Unintended Pregnancy: Barack Obama is an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information, and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.
Preventing Violence Against Women
- Reducing Domestic Violence: One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Family violence accounted for 11 percent of all violence between 1998 and 2002. Barack Obama introduced legislation to combat domestic violence by providing $25 million a year for partnerships between domestic violence prevention organizations and Fatherhood or Marriage programs to train staff in domestic violence services, provide services to families affected by domestic violence, and to develop best practices in domestic violence prevention.
- Strengthening Domestic Violence Laws: Approximately 1,400 women a year -- four every day -- die in the United States as a result of domestic violence. And 132,000 women report that they have been victims of a rape or attempted rape, and it is estimated that an even greater number have been raped but do not report it. Senator Obama co-sponsored and helped reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, legislation initially written and pushed through Congress by Joe Biden. The law funds and helps communities, nonprofit organizations, and police combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The reauthorized legislation establishes a sexual assault services program and provides education grants to prevent domestic violence.
- Fighting Gender Violence Abroad: The genocide in Darfur has had particularly devastating consequences for women. Tens of thousands of women have been killed, raped, and displaced since the conflict began in 2003. Barack Obama has been a leading voice in Washington urging the end of genocide in Sudan. He worked with Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) on the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, a version of which was signed into law. Obama has traveled to the United Nations to meet with Sudanese officials and visited refugee camps on the Chad-Sudan border to raise international awareness of the ongoing humanitarian disaster there. He also worked with Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to secure $20 million for the African Union peacekeeping mission.
- Fighting for Pay Equity: Despite decades of progress, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Throughout their careers, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have championed the right of women to receive equal pay for equal work. In the Illinois State Senate, Obama cosponsored and voted for the Illinois Equal Pay Act, which provided 330,000 more women protection from pay discrimination. In the U.S. Senate, Obama joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a bill to overturn the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The bill will restore the clear intent of Congress that workers must have a reasonable time to file a pay discrimination claim after they become victims of discriminatory compensation. Obama is also a cosponsor of Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA) Fair Pay Act. As president, Obama will continue to promote paycheck equity and close the wage gap between men and women.
- Expanding Paid Sick Days: Today, three-out-of-four low-wage workers have no paid sick leave. It is fundamentally unfair that a single mom playing by the rules can get fired or lose wages because her child gets sick. Barack Obama and Joe Biden support efforts to guarantee workers seven days of paid sick leave per year, a moderate proposal that should not impose too onerous a burden on employers.
- Investing in Women-Owned Small Businesses: Women are majority owners of more than 28 percent of U.S. businesses, but head less than 4 percent of venture-capital-backed firms. Women business owners are more likely than white male business owners to have their loan applications denied. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will encourage investing in women-owned businesses, providing more support to women business owners, and reducing discrimination in lending.
- Protecting Social Security: Americans are increasingly at risk of working their entire lives only to face retirement in poverty. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we need to preserve the character of Social Security by stopping any efforts to privatize social security. They will also work in a bipartisan way to maintain Social Security's solvency for future generations.
- Encouraging Retirement Saving:
- Create Automatic Workplace Pensions: The Obama-Biden retirement security plan will automatically enroll workers in a workplace pension plan. Under this plan, employers who do not currently offer a retirement plan will be required to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA account that is compatible to existing direct-deposit payroll systems. Employees may opt out if they choose. Experts estimate that this program will increase the savings participation rate for low and middle-income workers from its current 15 percent level to around 80 percent.
- Expand Retirement Savings Incentives for Working Families: Obama and Biden will ensure savings incentives are fair to all workers by creating a generous savings match for low and middle-income Americans. Their plan will match 50 percent of the first $1,000 of savings for families that earn less than $75,000. The savings match will be automatically deposited into designated personal accounts. Over 80 percent of these savings incentives will go to new savers.
- Caring for Women Veterans: There are 1.7 million women veterans, a number that is increasing every day. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that was built to care for World War II veterans is not ready to handle the influx of women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Barack Obama has introduced legislation to force the Pentagon and VA to better track the newest generation of veterans -- including the number of women veterans -- so that the VA can better plan their care. Obama also introduced legislation to fight homelessness among veterans, with a special focus on treating women who may have been victims of sexual trauma. Along with Senator Claire McCaskill, Obama has co-sponsored legislation to provide funding for additional caseworkers and mental health counselors, a women's mental health treatment program, and a comprehensive mental health study of returning soldiers. As president, Barack Obama will fight to ensure that women can get the care they deserve at the VA.
Of the 37 million Americans living below the poverty line, approximately 14.6 million are women -- a staggering number equal to the combined populations of Iowa, Indiana, and Wisconsin. And nearly 13 million children are living in poverty, a rise of 1.3 million since 2000. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to a renewed effort to tackle the underlying problems that cause poverty.
- Raise the minimum wage: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs.
- Helping Low-Income Workers: Obama and Biden will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce. Obama and Biden will also create a program to directly engage disadvantaged youth in energy efficiency opportunities to strengthen their communities, while also providing them with practical skills in this important high-growth career field.
- Protecting Title IX: Barack Obama and Joe Biden support eliminating gender discrimination in American schools. For 35 years, Title IX has been a bulwark against sex discrimination against students and employees at all levels of education. Obama and Biden will fight to make sure women have equal opportunities and access from pre-kindergarten through graduate school.
- Expanding Early Childhood Education: Obama has been a champion of early childhood education since his years in the Illinois legislature, where he led the effort to create the Illinois Early Learning Council. Obama has introduced a comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan to provide critical support to young children and their parents by investing $10 billion per year to create: Early Learning Challenge Grants to stimulate and help fund state "zero to five" efforts; quadruple the number of eligible children for Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding, and improve quality for both; work to ensure all children have access to pre-school; provide affordable and high-quality child care that will promote child development and ease the burden on working families; and create a Presidential Early Learning Council to increase collaboration and program coordination across federal, state, and local levels.
- Promoting Women in Math and Science: Women constitute 45 percent of the workforce in the U.S., but hold just 12 percent of science and engineering jobs in business and industry. Women also make up just 9 percent of the recipients of engineering-related bachelor's degrees. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that every student should have equal access to education in math, science, and technology in order to compete on a global scale.
- Improving Our Schools: From the moment our children step into a classroom, the single most important factor in determining their achievement is their teacher. Barack Obama and Joe Biden value teachers and the central role that they play in education. They will work to ensure competent, effective teachers in schools that are organized for success. The Obama-Biden K-12 plan will expand service scholarships to recruit and prepare teachers who commit to working in underserved districts. To support teachers, Obama and Biden will foster ongoing improvements in teacher education, provide mentoring for beginning teachers, create incentives for shared planning and learning time for teachers. To retain teachers, Obama and Biden will support career pathways that provide ongoing professional development and reward accomplished teachers for their expertise. This Career Ladder initiative will help eliminate teacher shortages in hard-to-staff areas and subjects, improve teacher retention rates, strengthen teacher preparation programs, improve professional development, and better utilize and reward accomplished teachers.
- Making College More Affordable: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university. Recipients of this credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of public service a year, either during the school year or over the summer months.
The Obama-Biden Plan
"(Obama's speech on faith) may be the most important pronouncement by a Democrat on faith and politics since John F. Kennedy's Houston speech in 1960 declaring his independence from the Vatican...Obama offers the first faith testimony I have heard from any politician that speaks honestly about the uncertainties of belief."
In June of 2006, Senator Obama delivered what was called the most important speech on religion and politics in 40 years. Speaking before an evangelical audience, Senator Obama candidly discussed his own religious conversion and doubts, and the need for a deeper, more substantive discussion about the role of faith in American life.
Senator Obama also laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate. In December 2006, Senator Obama discussed the importance of faith in the global battle against AIDS.
Our nation's creativity has filled the world's libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books -- Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope -- Barack Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed advocates for children. They will make sure that every child has health insurance, expand educational opportunities for low-income children, extend resources for low-income families, support and supplement our struggling foster care system, and protect children from violence and neglect. Katrina
As president, Barack Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Joe Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.
Barack Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina. Citing the Bush administration's "unconscionable ineptitude" in responding to Hurricane Katrina, Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims. Obama visited thousands of Hurricane survivors in the Houston Convention Center and later took three more trips to the region. He worked with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to introduce legislation to address the immediate income, employment, business, and housing needs of Gulf Coast communities.
As president, Barack Obama will partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever.
In the past, government funding for scientific research has yielded innovations that have improved the landscape of American life -- technologies like the Internet, digital photography, bar codes, Global Positioning System technology, laser surgery, and chemotherapy. At one time, educational competition with the Soviets fostered the creativity that put a man on the moon. Today, we face a new set of challenges, including energy security, HIV/AIDS, and climate change. Yet, the United States is losing its scientific dominance. Among industrialized nations, our country's scores on international science and math tests rank in the bottom third and bottom fifth, respectively. Over the last three decades, federal funding for the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences has declined at a time when other countries are substantially increasing their own research budgets. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe federally funded scientific research should play an important role in advancing science and technology in the classroom and in the lab.
Barack Obama did not grow up hunting and fishing, but he recognizes the great conservation legacy of America's hunters and anglers and has great respect for the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sports. Were it not for America's hunters and anglers, including the great icons like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our nation would not have the tradition of sound game management, a system of ethical, science-based game laws and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sport. Barack Obama and Joe Biden recognize that we must forge a broad coalition if we are to address the great conservation challenges we face. America's hunters and anglers are a key constituency that must take an active role and have a powerful voice in this coalition.
As our society becomes more mobile and interconnected, the need for 21st-century transportation networks has never been greater. However, too many of our nation's railways, highways, bridges, airports, and neighborhood streets are slowly decaying due to lack of investment and strategic long-term planning. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that America's long-term competitiveness depends on the stability of our critical infrastructure. They will make strengthening our transportation systems, including our roads and bridges, a top priority.
References were not provided in the original document, but the reader may consult:
- Electronic records of hate crime legislation by Obama available on the Illinois State Senate Web site include 92nd General Assembly bill HB0136 and HB4371, and an amendment in the 93rd General Assembly to HB999.
- The figure of 300 language experts and 55 soldiers fluent in Arabic fired under "Don't ask, don't tell" is supported by Army dismisses gay Arabic linguist: Decorated soldier ‘outed’ by anonymous e-mail never admitted to charges" MSNBC (Associated Press) July 27, 2006.
- Income loss of $2,400 per year (4%) for working-age households in the period 2000-2006 is documented at epi.org. ("Poverty, income, and health insurance trends in 2006" by Jared Bernstein, Elise Gould, and Lawrence Mishel). The CNN article "Work harder, take home less" (August 28, 2008) cites these authors but describes the timeline as 2000-2007.
- The 40% loss of value of market indices such as the S&P 500 can be examined at money.msn.com
- The nurse-family partnership data is described at nursefamilypartnership.org, aecf.org, and Olds, 2007 among others.