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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, April 26, 2008

HUBdate: Fair is Fair

Fair is Fair: In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Clinton campaign strategist Geoff Garin writes:

“The bottom line is that one campaign really has engaged in a mean-spirited, unfair character attack on the other candidate -- but it has been Obama’s campaign, not ours. You would be hard-pressed to find significant analogues from our candidate, our senior campaign officials or our advertising to the direct personal statements that the Obama campaign has made about Clinton.” Read More.

$$$: “Hillary Clinton raised $10 million in the 24 hours after winning the Pennsylvania primary, aided by contributions from 80,000 new donors.” Read more and keep it going at www.hillaryclinton.com.

An Open Letter From Dr. Maya Angelou: Poet and activist Dr. Maya Angelou wrote an open letter about her commitment to Hillary’s candidacy. “Hillary does not waver in standing up for those who need a champion…. I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I know that she will make the most positive difference in people's lives and she will help our country become what it can be.” Read More.

In Case You Missed It: Paul Krugman writes in today’s NYT: “From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that ‘we are the ones we’ve been waiting for’ (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not.” Read more.

Bringing Troops Home with Honor: Yesterday, Hillary highlighted policies for veterans at “Solutions for America” events in Fayetteville and Asheville, NC. It’s rare for a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to endorse a candidate but General Hugh Shelton is backing HRC. In NC yesterday, he said: “Unlike any other candidate, [Hillary] understands that maintaining a well-prepared armed forces goes beyond providing dollars…She is the only candidate who has offered a responsible plan for bringing our troops home with honor.” Read more.

Electable…Without FL or OH? The Obama campaign released a memo yesterday on electability, but as Chris Cilizza highlights, “two states that are not mentioned in the Obama memo are Florida, the key battleground in the 2000 presidential race, and Ohio, the Florida of the 2004 contest.” Read more.

Debate Watch: Hillary is willing to debate Sen. Obama in North Carolina, Oregon, and Indiana while Sen. Obama continues to resist. His excuse today: “It’s not clear that another debate is going to be the best use of our time.” Meanwhile Sen. Evan Bayh said this yesterday: “We have thousands of people in Indiana who…deserve an opportunity to see both candidates stand side by side...We in Indiana don’t want to be treated as second-class citizens.” Read more and more.

Today on the Trail: In North Carolina, Hillary hosts a “Solutions for America” event in Jacksonville, NC. In Indiana, she hosts “Solutions for the American Economy” events in Bloomington, East Chicago, and Fort Wayne. She also meets with steelworkers to discuss creating and protecting jobs in Gary.

Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Address the Student Loan Crisis

Over a year ago, Hillary Clinton called on the Bush Administration to address the growing problems in the subprime mortgage market. Instead of listening, President Bush stood by as the subprime crisis spiraled into a larger housing and credit crisis that is driving our economy downward. This economic crisis now threatens to claim another victim: student loans. As the result of the credit crunch, more than 50 student lenders, accounting for almost 14% of private student-loan volume, have already withdrawn from the guaranteed student loan program [Wall Street Journal, A3, 4/24/08]. Hundreds of thousands of students who are actively considering how to finance their college educations could be left in the lurch, without the ability to pay for college. And when those students are not able to college, that is not only tragic for them but a loss for our economy as a college graduate earns $1 million more over the course of their lifetime than someone with a high school diploma.

Now is the time to act to prevent a student lending crisis. In Indiana, where six of every ten students graduate with debt, and that debt averages $21,000, it is vital that we ensure that every Hoosier student can count on the loans they need to attend school in the fall [Project on Student Debt]. Today, Hillary laid out her plan for addressing the student loan crisis. She urged the Bush Administration to support her plan, and act swiftly to head-off this growing crisis.

1) Give schools a fast-track option to enter the secure, Direct Loan Program without delay. The Department of Education administers the Direct Student Loan program, which provides low-interest, federally backed loans directly to students. The Direct Loan program costs taxpayers less than the private student loan program and provides a safe and secure avenue for ensuring that students can obtain the financing they need for college. For many schools that face problems with private lenders, entering the Direct Loan Program may be the most secure, cost-efficient solution to ensuring all students can access loans this fall. Yet, the average wait time for schools to transfer from the private student loan program to the Direct Loan program is approximately six weeks. Senator Clinton believes that given the unique challenges in the student loan market, we should enact a temporary, fast-track alternative to expedite new applications into the Direct Loan program for schools that have lost their private lenders. We have already seen Indiana University at Bloomington shift from the private loan program to the Direct Loan program in order to protect the 12,000 students receiving federally subsidized loans from the crisis. The Department of Education should act immediately to ensure that other higher education institutions can follow in IU Bloomington’s footsteps without delay.

2) Ensure that parents who have faced foreclosures as a result of the mortgage crisis are not doubly penalized when they seek student loans for their children. Under current law, parents who want to take out PLUS loans, federally guaranteed low interest loans to help pay for their child's education, may be denied student loans if they defaulted on a mortgage or are 90 days late in repaying their debt. But because of widespread predatory lending, this policy denies student loans to many people who defaulted because of deceptive and unfair practices. Hillary Clinton believes we should not automatically disqualify this group of people from taking out PLUS loans to help their children attend college. The applications should be judged on an individualized basis, in light of all the circumstances.

3) Establish the Department of Education, working with the Treasury Department, as a safety net for student borrowers. Today, schools in the private loan program have banks that service their loans. But the banks are pulling out of the program, leaving schools and students without access to financial assistance. Hillary Clinton believes that the Department of Education must be ready to step in to help ensure that responsible, hard-working students have access to higher education. Hillary is calling for the Department of Education to:

Serve as Lender of Last Resort -- Under current law, the Department of Education has the ability to designate a guarantee agency to serve as a "lender of last resort." Hillary believes schools that are unable to locate lenders for their students should be required to immediately notify the Department of Education and the state's designated guarantee agency. Guarantee agencies should review a school’s certification of need for last-resort loans, and develop a plan for ensuring that the students receive loans (either through the guarantee agency, through an agreement with a new lender, through the Direct Loan Program, or through an alternative arrangement that is acceptable and certified by the guarantee agency). The Department of Education ought to establish a line of credit at the Department of Treasury to enable it to advance money to guaranty agencies – state or private entities that insure federal loans -- to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted process for students and their parents for them to serve as lenders of last resort.

Purchase loans directly from lenders -- Senator Clinton supports giving the Department of Education the authority to purchase federally guaranteed loans, with financing from the Department of Treasury, from lenders who are no longer able to service the loans. Once the federal government has purchased these loans, the Department of Education can service them loans through the Direct Loan program, giving student borrowers access to valuable benefits like loan forgiveness for public service work. This proposal will provide much needed liquidity and shore up the student loan market. Hillary believes this authority must come with a guarantee from participating lenders that they will continue to provide student loans. She will also take steps to prevent student lenders from dumping risky loans on the federal government.

Hillary Clinton Reacts to False Attacks from Sen. Obama About the Oil Industry

Hillary Clinton made the following statement today at a "Solutions for America" town hall in Bloomington, IN in response to false attacks from Sen. Obama about the oil industry.

"Earlier today my opponent attacked me on energy issues. He claimed he would take on the special interests. But we've heard him say that before, but he voted, which I think is always the way to figure out where somebody truly stands. My late father used to say 'watch what they do, not what they say’ and that ‘actions speak louder than words.'"

"When it came time to stand up against the oil companies and stand against Dick Cheney's energy bill, my opponent voted for it and I voted against it. And that bill had billions of dollars in giveaways to the oil companies. It was the best bill that the energy companies could buy.

"I know that my opponent has run ads claiming that he does not take money from oil companies. Well no one does. It's illegal. It’s been illegal for 100 years to take money from oil companies."
"Then my opponent puts up an ad saying he doesn’t take money from oil company PACs. In March, he took more money from oil company executives than any candidate, Republican or Democrat. So I think it’s important for you to know the facts."

Here is additional background on Sen. Obama’s attacks earlier today:

Clinton Campaign Responds to Obama Health Care Ad & False Claims on Conference Call

New Obama TV ad in South Dakota falsely claims his plan covers everyone, but independent experts disagree, Campaign also claimed in conference call today that its plan cuts costs more than Clinton’s, which is also false
In response to Sen. Obama's TV ad claiming his health care plan covers everyone – and his campaign's subsequent claim on a conference call with reporters that his plan cuts costs more than Hillary Clinton’s does – the Clinton campaign released the following response:
"It's unfortunate that Senator Obama didn’t have the courage to produce a universal health care plan and instead wrote a plan that leaves 15 million Americans without coverage. That is unacceptable and Senator Obama should explain why he chose to leave so many people uninsured," Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said. "When it comes to cutting costs, Senator Clinton's plan is just as aggressive, if not more so. The real difference is that her plan covers every American and Senator Obama's leaves 15 million without insurance."
ON COVERING EVERY AMERICAN: While Sen. Obama claims that his health care plan covers every American like Sen Clinton’s does, experts really believe his plan, which lacks an individual mandate, would actually leave 15 million people uninsured. For example:
Concord Monitor: 'Gruber estimated that 15 million people would remain uninsured under Obama's plan.' "Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who worked on the Massachusetts plan, said a mandate means "the difference between universal or near-universal coverage. Obama would have a large expansion, better than anything the Republicans have, but not universal coverage," Gruber said. "You can't get it without a mandate; it's just not possible." Gruber estimated that 15 million people would remain uninsured under Obama's plan.” [Concord Monitor, 12/26/07]
Len Nichols, Jonathan Gruber and Mark Pauly: 'even with other cost saving measures and a child mandate, we think that it is very likely that a least 15 million American would remain uninsured.' "Recent estimates suggest that a plan with uniform generous subsidies but without a mandate would cover no more than one-half of the uninsured in the U.S. Even with other cost-saving measures and a child mandate, we think that it is very likely that at least 15 million Americans would remain uninsured." [New America Foundation Policy Brief, 12/06/07]
Jonathan Holohan of the Urban Institute: 'Obama would still leave about 22 million, 23 million, but he has a mandate for children, about 9 million uninsured kids, so assuming you get most of them, you get pretty close to 15 million.' [New Republic, 12/03/07]
Wall Street Journal: 'Mrs. Clinton charges that Mr. Obama's plan would leave 15 million people without insurance. Outside experts agree that number is in the ballpark.' [Wall Street Journal, 12/04/07]
Washington Post: 'The Obama plan could leave a third of those currently uninsured lacking coverage.' [Washington Post, 6/9/07]
ON CUTTING COSTS: Today on a conference call, the Obama campaign claimed that his plan does more to cut costs than any other plan. That's not true either. Both plans take the following steps to cut costs:
1. Require chronic care disease management in federal programs
2. Support care management teams and medical homes to improve care coordination
3. Require providers to collect and publicly report measures of cost and quality
4. Develop and disseminate best practices and value-based purchasing in federal programs
5. Medical malpractice reform
6. Invest in comparative effectiveness research
7. Promote adoption of health information technology
8. Administrative savings through group purchasing
9. Allow reimportation of prescription drugs
10. Remove barriers to generic competition
11. Allow Secretary to negotiate Rx drug prices in Medicare
12. Eliminate Medicare overpayments in managed care
13. Promote prevention and invest in public health and safety-net providers
14. Eliminate health disparities
15. Invest in health care workforce non-physician providers
16. Federal reinsurance for catastrophic health expenses
Moreover, Hillary's plan takes several additional steps to reduce costs not found in Sen. Obama's plan:
1. Hard limits on excess profit and administrative costs in insurance company premiums
2. Prohibit payment for medical errors in all federal programs
3. Create a pathway for biogeneric competition
4. Provide more oversight of drug advertising, marketing excesses and inappropriate financial relationships with providers.
5. Require e-prescribing in federal programs.
In adidtion, Hillary's plan contains more subsidies than Sen. Obama's plan --
"Outside experts note that the Clinton and Obama plans propose spending about the same amount of money, while Mr. Obama uses some of his to pay for the reinsurance plan -- an initiative that could cost tens of billions of dollars. That should help lower premiums across the board, but it means there would be less available for direct subsidies." [Wall Street Journal, 12/5/07]
Read more about Hillary's universal health care plan here.

Hillary Clinton Statement On World Malaria Day

Today, on the first-ever World Malaria Day, we are reminded of the global tragedy that every thirty seconds a child in Africa dies of malaria. We have the tools to stop these deaths, and to protect and treat children and their families across the world who go to bed every night fearing that they are one mosquito bite away from despair and devastation.

That is why in November, 2007, I unveiled an ambitious plan to combat malaria and the poverty that results from debilitating and deadly infectious diseases. My plan includes $1 billion per year to address malaria infection in Africa, with the goal of stamping out malaria deaths in Africa altogether by the end of my second term. I was pleased to see that this commitment was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives last month when it approved a five-year, $1 billion a year, investment in malaria for the first time ever as part of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has also included $5 billion over 5 years for malaria in their version of the reauthorization, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to help bring the resources to bear upon this epidemic.

We need a comprehensive assault on malaria, which needlessly kills more than 1 million people each year and consumes 40% of public health expenditures in many African countries. Combating malaria is also critical to strengthening health infrastructures and effectively combating AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases.

If we act boldly, we can win the fight against malaria. We can end the needless death and suffering of millions and move toward the long-term goal of completely eradicating malaria from the planet. And by raising hope, opportunity and human dignity for millions, we can help restore America’s moral leadership around the world.

Sen. Obama Attacks On Oil Companies! Really?

Clinton Campaign Responds To Sen. Obama Attacks
Senator Obama attacked Senator Clinton today for not standing up to the oil industry. Really? Senator Obama is the only candidate that voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill and took more money from oil company executives than any other candidate last month:

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said: "Sen. Obama might say he doesn't take contributions from oil companies, but he took more money last month from oil company executives than any other candidate. He might say he'll stand up to the oil companies but he’s the only candidate who voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill that was written by energy lobbyists and has been called the best energy bill corporations could buy."

"With gas prices this high, talk is cheap. The American people need solutions."


Sen. Obama accepted more money from oil execs last month than any other candidate

Sen. Obama accepted more money from oil company executives last month than any other candidate, while he ran an ad saying he didn't take money from oil companies. "Sen. Barack Obama continued accepting donations from oil company executives and employees last month even as he aired ads in which he stated he took no oil company money, his campaign finance reports show. Obama has taken at least $263,000 from oil company executives, family members and employees since entering the presidential race last year, including $46,000 last month. At least $140,000 has come in chunks of between $1,000 and $2,300, the maximum permitted under federal law." Obama's [LA Times, 4/24/08] Sen. Obama Voted For The Bush/Cheney 2005 Energy Bill

Sen. Obama voted for the 2005 Energy Bill, Hillary opposed: [H.R. 6, Vote #213, 07/29/05]

Bush's 2005 Energy Bill Was Written By The Energy Lobby, Who Spent Millions To Ensure Passage

Public Citizen: Energy lobby gained 'exclusive, private access to lawmakers' to advocate for 2005 Energy Bill 'starting with vice-president Dick Cheney's energy task force': "On August 8, 2005, President Bush signed into the law the energy bill; on July 28, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 275 to 156 to approve the energy bill; and on July 29, the U.S. Senate voted 74 to 26 to approve the energy bill. Since 2001, energy corporations have showered federal politicians with $115 million in campaign contributions—with three-quarters of that amount going to Republicans. This cash helped secure energy companies and their lobbyists exclusive, private access to lawmakers, starting with Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force, whose report provided the foundation of the energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush on August 8." [Public Citizen, "The Best Energy Bill Corporations Could Buy," citizen.org]

Thomas Friedman: 2005 Energy Bill Was 'The Sum of All Lobbies': "This bill is what the energy expert Gal Luft calls 'the sum of all lobbies.'" [Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 8/5/05]

With 2005 Energy Bill, Energy Lobby Got What They Paid For

Washington Post: 2005 Energy Bill was 'a piñata of perks for energy industries': The Washington Post said, "…The energy bill, touted as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil or moderate gasoline prices, has been turned into a piñata of perks for energy industries." [Washington Post, 7/30/05]

Energy Bill gave $6 billion in subsidies to oil & gas industry: [Public Citizen, "The Best Energy Bill Corporations Could Buy," citizen.org]

Sen. Obama Has Acknowledged Pernicious Influence Of Lobbyists On Energy Policy He supported

Obama: 'You can look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy…he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that's how they put together our energy policy': "The one thing I have to remind folks, though, of – we’ve been talking about this through Republican administrations and Democratic administrations for decades. And the reason it doesn’t change – you can take a look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy. He met with environmental groups one, he met with renewable energy folks once, and then he met with oil and gas companies forty times, and that’s how they put together our energy policy. We’ve got to put the national interest ahead of the special interest, and that’s what I’ll do when I’m President of the United States." [Democratic Presidential Debate, 7/23/07]

Hillary Clinton Outlines Solutions to Strengthen America’s Military

Touring North Carolina today with native son General Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior retired military officrs, Hillary Clinton will outline solutions to strengthen our military, which has been placed under tremendous strain due to the Iraq War.

After more than five years, the Iraq war has placed unprecedented strains on the American military. The war has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 brave young men and women. Tens of thousands more have been wounded, many with invisible injuries like Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The war has also eroded the military’s strength, straining capacity, and weakening its ability to be prepared for new and unexpected challenges as well as address the growing danger on the forgotten front line in Afghanistan.

The Bush-Cheney-McCain strategy is to continue this failed policy. Hillary will end this war, bring our troops home, and reduce the stress on the men and women of our armed forces and their families. Below is her plan to strengthen the military, bring the troops home, and ensure that veterans receive the care and services they deserve.

Hillary believes we must ensure that we treat the forces we send into battle with honor and respect. Hillary will ensure that our troops receive sufficient time at home between deployments to rest, reconnect with their families, and receive appropriate training for their next mission. As President, Hillary will take the following steps.

Reduce Strains on Our Troops. The war is placing tremendous strain on our armed forces, courting strategic risks posed by a force that is stretched to the breaking point. As President, Hillary will also adopt the proposals of Rep. John Murtha that, for every month they spend in the field, soldiers will be guaranteed one month here at home. Our Marines will have a similar standard appropriate for their service. The Army's policy goals and practice until the Iraq war were to have at least twice as much time at home for active duty soldiers as in the field and at least four times as much time at home as in the field for National Guard and Reserve. As President, Hillary will reestablish these as long-term goals for our armed forces.

End Stop Loss. More than 70,000 enlisted soldiers have been affected by this policy that forces soldiers to remain in the military beyond their contractual time, sometimes by as much as two years. On top of multiple tours of duty and little time at home between deployments, this policy increases the chances for physical and psychological problems, and deters people from joining the military. As President, Hillary will stop this policy and ensure that the Department of Defense abides by its contracts with all soldiers.

Build a Military for the Future. In the wake of Iraq, we need to restore and reshape the military with the future in mind. In addition to fighting conventional wars, the force of the future needs to be able to deal with a wide range of possible scenarios, including responding to conflict in weak and failing states and responding to humanitarian crises. Hillary will direct the Secretary of Defense to give first priority to build the force we need for the 21st century in areas where the need is greatest, including civil affairs, psychological operations, engineers, military police, and linguists.

To strengthen national security and begin to relieve the strain on our armed forces, we need to end the war in Iraq, begin bringing our troops home safely and responsibly, and stabilize Iraq.
As President, Hillary will convene her senior military leadership and will direct them to draw up a clear, comprehensive plan for bringing our troops home, beginning in 60 days. She will pursue a new diplomatic initiative in the region, including convening a regional stabilization meeting early in her Presidency to develop and implement a strategy to stabilize Iraq. Hillary will lead an international effort under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address the major refugee crisis created by this war. Hillary's plan will also ensure that the United States maintains a small and effective counterterrorism force in Iraq and the region to ensure al Qaeda never gains a capability to attack the United States or its allies from Iraq

Hillary's agenda for the military builds on her record of fighting for veterans. When Hillary is President, she will make sure that every member of our armed forces will receive a fair shot at the American Dream when their service is over. She will ensure that every veteran in America will have health care. She will work so that every veteran receives the benefits they have earned and the assistance they need - right from the start. And she will make sure no soldier ever loses a bonus because he or she has been injured in service. As President, Hillary will:

Enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century. Hillary will enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century that will resurrect the spirit of the original 1944 GI Bill and offer service members, veterans and their families with expanded education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. Her plan will guarantee equal access for all components of the Armed Forces -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- that have deployed overseas in support of a combat operation since September 11 or served two years of active duty since September 11. She will fund undergraduate education for service members, as well as education for specialized trade or technical training, and certification and licensing programs. She will make GI educational benefits transferable within families. She will expand the VA Home Loan Guaranty program to allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued up to $625,000. She will establish a Veterans Microloan Program to provide veterans with no-collateral, low-interest microloans of up to $100,000 for entrepreneurial ventures.

Provide Affordable and Quality Health Care for All Veterans. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of the 1.8 million uninsured veterans in this country have access to quality, affordable health care. She will restore the Clinton-era policy that opened the VA's excellent and cost-effective health care system to all veterans who seek to enroll. She will make a long-term commitment to the VA system to ensure it is adequately funded and has the capacity to avoid backlogs and to handle greater enrollments. And she will provide coverage through the American Health Choices Plan to all veterans who choose not to use the VA system.

Ensure All Veterans Receive the Benefits They Have Earned and the Assistance They Need -- Right from the Start. As President, Hillary will commit to getting a fair, accurate, and timely decision for every veteran filing a disability claim. She will increase the number of qualified VA evaluators to reduce the backlog of claims. She will provide fast-track training for new claims specialists and expand the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program to smooth the transition from service to discharge for all those who serve our country.

Fully Fund the VA. Senator Clinton believes there is no more important way of honoring veterans than ensuring they can receive quality care through the VA. As President, she will push to have guaranteed funding for the VA. She does not believe the VA should be fighting every year to get money for the people who take care of us.

Extend Hiring Preferences to Veterans-friendly Contractors. Today, there are between 7.2 and 7.6 million federal contractors, 2 million more than there were five years ago. The privatization of government by the Bush administration has meant veterans are losing job opportunities, because contractors do not necessarily have the same hiring policies as the federal government. Hillary will cut the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next 10 years, saving $10 to $18 billion a year. And she will restore and expand job opportunities for veterans by working to establish a system through which federal contractors afford veterans hiring preference comparable to the federal government's.

Give Veterans Additional Opportunities to Serve. Hillary will make vouchers worth up to $10,000 available to returning veterans who want to serve in AmeriCorps and select not-for-profit organizations. These organizations would provide at least $5,000 to supplement the voucher. This system will help veterans create normal routines and reenter their communities while doing meaningful work serving their country. Hillary will make this subsidy available to as many as 20,000 veterans a year.

Reduce Homelessness among Veterans. In 2006, nearly 200,000 veterans were homeless on any given night. Hillary will establish a pilot program on homelessness prevention for veterans that will provide subsidies, eviction prevention, and one-time assistance for veterans who fall behind on their rent. She will also expand rental assistance for veterans by calling on Congress to fund an additional 20,000 housing choice vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans.

Expand the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Hillary will increase funding for the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program links veterans with local job opportunities in the construction and trade industries by offering apprenticeship programs that teach veterans through on-the-job training supplemented by classroom instruction.

Expand Veterans Homeownership. Hillary will make homeownership more affordable for veterans. Veterans will receive a 50% discount on foreclosed properties in the government's inventory, which currently stands at 35,000 homes. And she will eliminate the upfront fees on VA mortgages for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who take out VA loans within two years of leaving active duty.

An Open Letter from Dr. Maya Angelou

An Open Letter from Dr. Maya Angelou

Dear Friend:

I am writing to tell you about my friend, Hillary Clinton, and why I am standing with her in her campaign for the presidency. I know the kind of president Hillary Clinton will be because I know the person she is.

I am inspired by her courage and her honesty. She is a reliable and trustworthy person. She is someone I not only admire but one for whom I have profound affection.

Hillary does not waver in standing up for those who need a champion. She has always been a passionate protector of families. As a child, she was taught that all God's children are equal, and as a mother, she understood that her child wasn't safe unless all children were safe. As I wrote about Hillary recently in a praise song: "She is the prayer of every woman, and every man who longs for fair play, healthy families, good schools and a balanced economy."

It may be easy to view Hillary Clinton through the narrow lens of those who would write her off or grind her down. Hillary sees us as we are, black and brown and white and yellow and pink and relishes our differences knowing that fundamentally we are all more alike than we are unalike. She is able to look through complexion and see community.

She has endured great scrutiny, and still she dares greatly. Hillary Clinton will not give up on you, and all she asks is that you do not give up on her. She is a long-distance runner. I am honored to say I am with her for the long run.

I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I know that she will make the most positive difference in people's lives and she will help our country become what it can be. Whether you are her supporter, leaning towards her, undecided, or supporting someone else, I believe Hillary Clinton will represent you – she will be a president for all Americans. It is no small thing that along the way we will make history together.

Vote for Hillary Clinton and show your support at www.hillaryclinton.com. I know she will make us proud.

Transcript: Hillary Clinton Delivers Remarks at Pennsylvania Celebration Event

Hillary Clinton delivered the following remarks at a victory celebration in Philadelphia, PA:
Thank you so much. Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Oh, thank you.
It’s a long road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and it runs right through the heart of Pennsylvania.
For six weeks Senator Obama and I have crisscrossed this state, meeting people up close, being judged side by side, making our best case. You listened and today you chose.
With two wars abroad and an economic crisis here at home, you know the stakes are high and the challenges are great, but you also know the possibilities. Those possibilities are endless, if we roll up our sleeves and get to work with a president who is ready to lead on day one.
That means ready to take charge as Commander-in-Chief and make this economy work for middle class families. And I thank you. I thank you, Pennsylvania, for deciding I can be that president.
For me, the victory we share tonight is deeply personal. It was here in Pennsylvania where my grandfather started work as a boy in the lace mills and ended up as a supervisor five decades later. It was here where my father attended college and played football for Penn State. And I am back here tonight because of their hard work and sacrifice. And I only wish they could have lived to see this moment, because in this election I carry with me not just their dreams, but the dreams of people like them and like you all across our country - people who embrace hard work and opportunity, who never waver in the face of adversity, who stand for what you believe and never stop believing in the promise of America.
I’m in this race to fight for you, to fight for everyone who has ever been counted out, for everyone fighting to pay the grocery bills or the medical bills, the credit card and mortgage payments, and the outrageous price of gas at the pump today.
You know, the pundit's question whether Pennsylvanians would trust me with this charge and tonight you showed you do. You know you can count on me to stand up strong for you every single day in the White House.
This has been a historic race and I commend Senator Obama and his supporters tonight. We are, in many ways, all on this journey together to create an America that embraces every last one of us. The women in their nineties who tell me they were born before women could vote and they're hopeful of seeing a woman in the White House. The mothers and fathers at my events, who lift their little girls on their shoulders and whisper in their ears, "see, you can be anything you want."
Tonight, more than ever, I need your help to continue this journey. This is your campaign and this is your victory tonight. Your support has meant the difference between winning and losing. We can only keep winning if we can keep competing with an opponent who outspends us so massively. So, I hope you'll go to HillaryClinton.com and show your support tonight because the future of this campaign is in your hands.
Some people counted me out and said to drop out, but the American people don't quit and they deserve a president who doesn't quit either.
Tonight all across Pennsylvania and America, teachers are grading papers and doctors and nurses are caring for the sick, and you deserve a leader who listens to you.
Waitresses are pouring coffee and police officers are standing guard and small businesses are working to meet that payroll, and you deserve a champion who stands with you.
And of course, all across the world, our men and women in uniform, some on your second, third or fourth tour of duty, you deserve a Commander-in-Chief who will finally bring you home and who will rebuild our strained military, do whatever it takes to care for our veterans wounded in both body and spirit.
Today, here in Pennsylvania, you made your voices heard and because of you, the tide is turning.
We were up against a formidable opponent who outspent us three to one. He broke every spending record in this state trying to knock us out of the race. Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas tonight.
The presidency is the toughest job in the world, but the pressures of a campaign are nothing compared to the pressures of the White House, and today, Pennsylvanians looked through all the heat and saw the light of a brighter tomorrow - a tomorrow of shared prosperity and restored world leadership for peace, security, and cooperation. After seven long years of President Bush, we've got our work cut out for us and we don't have a minute to waste. So, it’s high time we stop talking about our problems and start solving them and that is what my campaign is all about.
All through this campaign, I have offered solutions: solutions for good jobs you can raise a family on; jobs that can't be shipped overseas; and on Earth Day, clean, renewable green jobs that can put us on the right track to the future; solutions for independence from foreign oil and exploding gas prices; quality affordable healthcare not just for many Americans or most Americans but for every single American, no exceptions and no excuses; affordable college and real improvements in public schools, not the failure that is No Child Left Behind. We’re going to end the war on science and have a renewed commitment to science and research. We will tackle everything from Autism to Alzheimer’s, cancer to diabetes, and make a real difference.
I look forward to discussing all of these issues with the people of Indiana, North Carolina and the states that I’ll be visiting in the coming weeks.
Not long ago a woman handed me a photograph of her father as a young soldier. He was receiving the Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House. During World War II, he had risked his life on a daring mission to drive back the enemy and protect his fellow soldiers. In the corner of that photo, in shaky handwriting, this American hero had simply written: "To Hillary Clinton, keep fighting for us." And that is what I’m going to do because America is worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for.
It was in this city that our founders declared America’s independence and our permanent mission to form a more perfect union. Neither Senator Obama nor I nor many of you were fully included in that vision, but we've been blessed by men and women in each generation who saw America not as it is, but as it could and should be. The abolitionists and the suffragists, the progressives and the union members, the civil rights leaders, all those who marched, protested and risked their lives because they looked into their children's eyes and saw the promise of a better future.
Because of them, I grew up taking for granted that women could vote. Because of them, my daughter grew up taking for granted that children of all colors could attend school together. And because of them and because of you, this next generation will grow up taking for granted that a woman or an African American can be the president of the United States of America.
I am so honored by the support and the hospitality of all of the people of Pennsylvania. I want to especially thank Governor Rendell and Mayor Nutter, Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll and the State Treasurer Robin Wiessmann and State Party Chair T.J. Rooney. These are great leaders and dear friends, as are my friends from the Congress, Representatives Murtha, Sestak, Schwartz and Kanjorski. Their support means the world to me and the support of 100 mayors across this commonwealth and so many other state and local leaders who worked hard for this victory tonight.
I want to thank my friends in our labor unions for standing with us every step of the way. And my outstanding staff, volunteers and supporters here in Pennsylvania and across America.
I especially want to thank my family for their incredible love and support. Bill and Chelsea have crisscrossed Pennsylvania from one end to the other. My brothers Hugh and Tony who love Pennsylvania with all their hearts, from our childhood summers in Lake Winola, and my mother who is with us tonight.
We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but if you're ready, I’m ready. I might stumble and I might get knocked down, but as long as you'll stand with me I will always get right back up. Because for me, in the end, the question isn't whether we can keep America’s promise, it's whether we will keep America’s promise.
So let me ask you tonight - will we once again be the can-do nation, the nation that defies the odds and does the impossible?
Will we break the barriers and open the doors and lift up all of our people?
Will we reach out to the world and lead by the power of our ideals again?
Will we take back the White House and take back our country?
I believe with all of my heart that together we will turn promises into action, words will become solutions, hope will become reality, so my answer to any who doubt is "yes, we will."
Thank you and God bless you.

MEMO: The Tide Is Turning

To: Interested PartiesFrom: The Clinton CampaignDate: April 23, 2008RE: The Tide Is Turning
The voters in Pennsylvania have spoken. America is listening. And the tide is turning.

By providing fresh evidence that Hillary is the candidate best positioned to beat John McCain in the fall, the Pennsylvania primary is a turning point in the nominating contest.

Despite making an unprecedented financial investment in his Pennsylvania campaign, including millions on negative ads in the closing days of the race, Sen. Obama again failed to win a state that will be vital to a Democratic victory in November and spurred new questions about his ability to beat John McCain. No candidate has ever had more resources or enjoyed the kind of momentum that Sen. Obama had in Pennsylvania.

With concerns about the economy paramount, voters decided that Sen. Clinton was the candidate they trusted most to deal with job loss, the housing crisis and health care.

And with both candidates under the microscope at the same time for the first time, Hillary took more than a few punches and came out stronger while Sen. Obama emerged weaker as voters learned more about him. The exit polls clearly show that Sen. Clinton gained strength in the final days when the campaign was most engaged.

The reason for the Clinton comeback is clear: voters want a candidate who will stand strong for them and work to create a better future.

STRONG ON ECONOMY: Pennsylvania turned on which candidate made the better case for fixing the economy. Exit polls show voters viewed Hillary more favorably on the economy - her leadership resonated across the heartland of Pennsylvania. Those who want change in the economy voted overwhelmingly for Hillary.

A DECISIVE VICTORY: According to exit polls, Hillary won voters most concerned about the economy by 16 points (58-42) and union households by 18 points (59-41). She won those with incomes between 100K and 150K by 20 points (60-40); white women by 32 points (66-34) and Catholics by 38 points (69-31). She won those who decided on the last day (59-41), the last three days (58-42) and the last week (54-46).

SEN. OBAMA PLAYED TO WIN & LOST: Sen. Obama played to win Pennsylvania outright, outspending the Clinton camp by a 3 to 1 margin while sharply attacking Sen. Clinton on the stump and in television, radio, and direct mail pieces. He understood what was at stake for him in Pennsylvania, had six full weeks to make his case, went for a knockout at the end and came up short. Sen. Obama’s failure to do well raises questions about his ability to win the large, swing states that Democrats need to win in November.

HRC WILL WIN IN NOVEMBER: Democrats must win the large swing states to beat John McCain in the fall, but Sen. Obama has struggled in states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. In addition, Hillary’s voters form the coalition needed for Democratic success in the fall battleground states: women, Hispanics, older voters, working class voters and Catholics. Sen. McCain is stronger than a typical Republican normally is among these groups while Sen. Obama has proven weaker among them. Hillary is also most likely to hold traditionally Democratic states and poised to expand the electoral map in the Southwest while also flipping a few traditionally GOP states like Arkansas.

OUR VICTORY HAS RE-ENERGIZED OUR CAMPAIGN & OUR GRASSROOTS: Sen. Obama may have outspent us 3 to 1 in Pennsylvania, but Hillary's strong supporters kept her in it. As news of Sen. Clinton’s victory spread, we received more donations at www.hillaryclinton.com and more new online contributors than after our wins in Ohio and Texas. In fact, this was our best night ever for online fundraising.

Hillary Clinton Statement on McCain Opposition to Equal Pay Legislation

In response to the U.S. Senate rejecting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that would have provided American women with the legal recourse to challenge workplace discrimination when it occurs, Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:

"I was proud to be an original co-sponsor of this legislation, which would help deliver on the promise of equality and fairness in the workplace, and I am deeply disappointed 42 of my colleagues did not see fit to pass it. I am particularly disappointed that Senator McCain skipped the vote on this important legislation, and indicated that he would not have supported it had he been there.

"Senator McCain has yet again fallen in line with President Bush while middle class families are falling by the wayside. Senator McCain would rather pass laws to cut corporate taxes by $100 billion more - than pass laws to protect the civil rights of women earning thousands less than their male counterparts. Women are earning less but Senator McCain is offering more of the same.

"As president, I will never waver in my support for equal pay for equal work. I’m proud to be the sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would increase sanctions for violating the Equal Pay Act and provide stronger protections for women whose rights have been violated. I think it’s long past time we put equal pay at the top of the national legislative agenda, to demonstrate that as a nation, we value the skill, talent and hard work of every American, including every American woman."

Clinton Momentum Continues, Receives Prominent Montana Endorsements Today

Montana for Hillary today announced the endorsements of more Montana legislators, leaders and Democratic activists, demonstrating Clinton's growing support throughout Montana.
Last night Sen. Clinton decisively won the Pennsylvania primary, an important turning point in the Democratic primary against Barack Obama.

"In Montana, we can’t just rely on hope; it takes a plan to get things done. Hillary has a plan to make positive change in our communities, and I believe she will help address the issues facing rural Montana,” Rep. Julie French of Scobey said.

"I am grateful for the overwhelming support I’ve received from distinguished leaders under the Big Sky," Hillary said. "These local leaders see that a poor economy and failing health care system is taking a toll on their communities. They know I’m the candidate who will deliver real solutions to the problems facing Montanans."

Montana legislators, leaders and activists newly endorsing Hillary Clinton are:

State Sen. Ken Hansen, HarlemRep. Norma Bixby, Lame DeerRep. Julie French, ScobeyRep. Veronica Smalls Eastman, Lodge GrassJulia Doney, Democratic Activist, Fort BelknapFormer Rep. Angela Russell, Lodge GrassFormer Rep. Bob Gervais, Browning
Previously this week, both State Senator Vicki Cocchiarella (Missoula) and Rep. Franke Wilmer (Bozeman) endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Congressman John Tanner Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

On the heels of a strong victory in Pennsylvania, Congressman John Tanner today announced his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President. Tanner represents Tennessee's 8th Congressional District.

"I do not remember a time when our nation has faced the financial peril that confronts all Americans," Congressman Tanner said. "To me, this election is not about politics as usual. I believe nothing less than our financial liberty and economic freedom are at stake.

"In my opinion, the best person to lead this critical effort is Hillary Clinton. Hillary is a smart, pragmatic leader who understands the grave situation our country faces, with a $9 trillion debt, much of which is borrowed from foreign countries. Now, more than ever, our nation needs a leader like Sen. Clinton who can work with others to return to fiscal sanity."

Congressman John Tanner has represented Tennessee's 8th Congressional District since 1989. As a co-founder of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, Tanner is considered to be one of the leading voices in Congress for restoring fiscal responsibility to our nation's government. Tanner serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He also chairs the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Tanner and his wife, Betty Ann, reside in Union City, Tennessee.

"I am honored to have the support of Congressman John Tanner," said Hillary Clinton. "As co-founder of the Blue Dog Coalition, John has spent his career in Congress fighting to eliminate our national debt and restore fiscal soundness to our nation's government. John is known as a common sense, results-oriented leader, and I look forward to having him join me in spreading my message of change and experience across America."

In New NC Ask Me Ad Hillary Vows To Care For Our Veterans

In a new 60-second NC Ask Me Ad unveiled today, Hillary Clinton addresses David Eichhorn’s concerns about the treatment of our nation’s veterans.
Eichhorn, 64, is a resident of Hickory who served 24 years in our nation’s military. He asks, "I am really concerned about the vets coming back from this war that I know you question and I question, and I wonder if the V.A. is going to step up a little better with them."
Watch Hillary answer David’s question here.
The ad will begin airing statewide today.
Over 11,000 questions have been submitted through the campaign’s www.NCAskMe.com website. Staff and volunteers are working to answer every question and ensure that North Carolinians voices are heard. Senator Clinton will continue to answer voter’s questions over the coming weeks.
Following is the complete script of the ad.
"David" TV: 60
David Eichhorn: I am really concerned about the vets coming back from this war that I know you question and I question, and I wonder if the V.A. is going to step up a little better with them.
Hillary Clinton: Well David, we've got to step up. We have so many young men and women who are coming back and they have injuries that are visible and invisible, to the mind and the body and the heart.
And it's really important that we take care of them because they sure have taken care of us, and that's why we have to fully fund the V.A., and it's why we have to have special services for a lot of the problems that our vets are coming back with.
So, I have been a leader in the senate on trying to do more for traumatic brain injury.
It is one of the highest obligations of our president and commander in chief to take care of our veterans.
We owe everything to those who have served us.
I'm Hillary Clinton and I approved this message.

MEMO: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

To: Interested Parties
From: The Clinton Campaign
Date: April 22, 2008
MEMO: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

The Obama campaign is attempting to pre-spin the results from tonight's Pennsylvania primary by suggesting that Sen. Clinton should - and will - win.

But after the Obama campaign’s "go-for-broke" Pennsylvania strategy, after their avalanche of negative ads, negative mailers and negative attacks against Sen. Clinton, after their record-breaking spending in the state, a fundamental question must be asked: Why shouldn't Sen. Obama win?

Sen. Obama's supporters - and many pundits - have argued that the delegate "math" makes him the prohibitive frontrunner. They have argued that Sen. Clinton's chances are slim to none. So if he's already the frontrunner, if he's had six weeks of unlimited resources to get his message out, shouldn't he be the one expected to win tonight? If not, why not?
As the phrase goes, watch what they do not what they say.

There's a reason Sen. Obama and his campaign have ratcheted up their year-long assault on Sen. Clinton's character and ended the Pennsylvania campaign with a flurry of harsh negative attacks. It's because they know that a loss in Pennsylvania will raise troubling questions about his candidacy and his ability to take on John McCain in the general election. And it's because they know that the race is neck and neck and tonight's contest is a measure of where the campaign stands.

The reality is this: both candidates need a combination of pledged and super delegates to secure the nomination - and either candidate can reach the required number. The press and the pundits have repeatedly counted Sen. Clinton out and she has repeatedly proved them wrong. The vote in the bellwether state of Pennsylvania is another head to head measure of the two candidates and of the coalition they will put together to compete and win in November.

No amount of spin from the Obama campaign will change that - nor will it explain away anything less than a victory by Sen. Obama.

Hillary Clinton Statement on Earth Day

On Earth Day, we embrace our responsibility to each other and to future generations: every one of us, from the President in the White House to children in schools to CEOs in boardrooms can help protect the environment and save our planet.

That is the spirit that gives this day meaning. That is the call to citizenship that will help us solve the climate crisis and meet other threats to our environment. And that is why it is so important we elect a new president who will boldly and immediately set a new course.

When I am president, our nation will lead the world to tackle the climate crisis - and lead the global economy in new clean energy industries. I have a plan to promote energy independence, address global warming, and transform our economy by creating five million new jobs. I will reduce global warming emissions by 80% below 1990 levels and establish a market-based cap-and-trade system to efficiently allocate pollution permits. I will cut foreign oil imports by two-thirds from 2030 projected levels, more than 10 million barrels per day; raise fuel efficiency standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2030; invest $150 billion in renewable, alternative energy; and ensure that 25% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2025. I will end the Bush Administration's assault on environmental protections and standards. And climate researchers in our government will no longer be silenced - their results manipulated - to adhere to a radical ideological agenda. It will be a new day.

But meeting these big environmental challenges will take both new leadership and renewed citizenship. I encourage all Americans to find ways in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprints, to conserve energy, to protect greenspace in their communities, and to take other steps to safeguard our planet. We are all stewards of this Earth, and we must all be part of the solution.

Statement from Hillary Clinton on Equal Pay Day

"Equal Pay Day, the day that women’s wages catch up with our male counterparts from the previous year, reminds us that while Americans have made great strides towards equality, we still face important challenges.

"Even forty years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women only receive .77 cents for every dollar men earn, and the gap is significantly more for women of color. In Pennsylvania, women who work full time earn 74.8 percent of what men earn. In Indiana, its 72.6, and in North Carolina women earn 79.7 to each dollar earned by men. On average, families forfeit $4,000 a year because women don't receive equal pay for equal work. I am a proud sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will toughen penalties in enforcing the provisions of the Equal Pay Act and help realize the promise of pay equity.

"There are heroines standing up for equal pay for equal work. Lilly Ledbetter, whose years of pay discrimination were upheld by the Supreme Court because she did not file a lawsuit before she had evidence of the discrimination, inspired me and my colleagues to introduce legislation to ensure that cases like hers are decided on the merits not on technicalities.

"As the voters in Pennsylvania go to the polls today, the wage gap is a stark reminder of what is at stake in this election. As President, I will continue to work for pay equity because it's not a woman's issue, it is a fairness issue and it is a family issue."

Statement from the Obama Campaign on Presidential Debates

Obama campaign Communications Director Robert Gibbs released the following statement on Presidential debates.

"We have participated in 21 nationally televised debates, the most in primary history, including four exclusively with Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton refused an earlier invitation that had been accepted to debate in North Carolina. Over the next 10 days, we believe it's important to talk directly to the voters of Indiana and North Carolina about fixing our economy, cutting the cost of health care and ending a war in Iraq that never should have been authorized in the first place," Obama campaign spokesperson Robert Gibbs said.

Obama Launches Vote for Change 50-State Registration and Mobilization Drive

Senator Barack Obama’s campaign today announced the kickoff of Vote for Change, an unprecedented 50-state voter registration and mobilization drive. The campaign will work with grassroots volunteers and partner with local organizations to register new voters and boost engagement in our Democratic process. The program will launch on May 10 with dozens of events around the country.

“If we’re going to push back on the special interests and finally solve the challenges we face, we’re going to need everyone to get involved,” said Senator Obama. “Over the next six months, Vote for Change is going to bring new participants into the process, adding scores of new voices to this critical dialogue about our future. I started my career as a community organizer, and I worked to register voters in communities where hope was all but lost. I’ve seen what can happen when Americans re-engage and take ownership in the process.”

“We’ve already seen amazing new enthusiasm and involvement over the course of this campaign, and now we’re taking that excitement to the next level in all 50 states,” said deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand. “We’ve seen too many elections where turnout was less than 50 percent. At this critical time in our history, we know we can do better—this year and beyond.”

The campaign has launched a web site to help people get involved no matter where they live: http://my.barackobama.com/voteforchange. The site has information about 83 Vote for Change registration kick-off events on May 10, and also allows visitors from all 50 states to fill out a mail-in voter registration form, volunteer to register others to votes, and invite others to take part in the program.

The campaign’s recent voter registration drives have registered more than 200,000 new Democrats in Pennsylvania, more than 165,000 new Democrats in North Carolina, and more than 150,000 new Democrats in Indiana. Those numbers just scratch the surface of what’s possible.

Obama Statement on Equal Pay Day

4/22/08 Senator Obama today released the following statement on Equal Pay Day.

"Equal Pay Day is about the fundamental American principle that if you work hard and do a good job, you should be rewarded for your success, regardless of what you look like, where you come from, or what gender you are. And yet, many women today are still earning less than men for the same work – making it harder for single mothers to climb out of poverty, and for elderly women to retire with security.

"This pay gap is an ugly reflection of the discrimination that still exists in the workplace. And as the son of a single mother and the father of two young daughters, I believe we have a responsibility to close it. That’s why I’ve fought to ensure equal pay for equivalent work in Illinois and in the U.S. Senate, and proposed increasing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s funding and staffing, and making sure it is led by appointees with a strong commitment to ending discrimination. And that’s why tomorrow, I will vote for the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to overturn an unfair Supreme Court decision and ensure that workers can seek a remedy for any paycheck that reflects pay discrimination, no matter when they received it.

"In the end, while closing the pay gap is essential, it is not sufficient to make sure that women and girls have an equal shot at the American dream. We need to update the social contract to reflect the realities that working women face each day by providing seven paid sick days each year, helping all fifty states adopt paid leave for their workers, doubling federal funding for quality after-school programs, and encouraging flexible work schedules to help parents balance work and family.

"On this Equal Pay Day, let’s remember that closing the pay gap is about more than just passing a law or implementing a policy. It’s about living up to our founding promise of equality for all."

Obama Statement on Earth Day

4/22/08 Senator Obama today issued the following statement to mark Earth Day.

“As America and the world observe Earth Day, the call to save our planet has never been more urgent. In recent years, we’ve seen the harm that more severe weather events can do. We’ve seen it in the droughts that have swept the South, the hurricanes that threaten our shores with increasing ferocity, and the rising sea levels that could one day submerge our cities. This is a challenge unlike any the world has ever faced, and America must lead the world to meet it.

“But Earth Day is not just an urgent call to action; it is a reminder that what is now a global effort began as a grassroots movement for change. Nearly forty years ago, our nation was at war, recession loomed on the horizon, and Americans were losing faith in their own government. But in the face of division and despair, young Americans came together around a common purpose. In high schools, and on college campuses, in small towns and big cities, they rose up to demand that Washington help solve our growing environmental crisis and establish Earth Day.

“While our planet is in greater peril now than it was forty years ago, we are now better prepared to protect it. From solar panels to windmills to biofuels, innovators in America and around the world are inventing our way to a clean energy future. But solving our climate crisis requires more than technological breakthroughs. Our leaders in Washington have to put what’s right for our planet ahead of what’s good for their friends in the energy industry. Executives in the energy industry have to understand that there’s nothing inconsistent about acting in a way that’s both responsible and profitable. And each of us has to do more in our own lives to use energy more efficiently.

“We have a choice in this country. We can continue with an energy policy that makes no sense, and serves the interests of the big oil and gas companies at great cost to our planet. Or we can choose a different future – a future where America is energy independent, and no longer funding both sides in the war on terror; a future where we’re leading rather than undermining the global effort to combat climate change; and investing in green energy technology, and creating the jobs of the future. That is the future I believe in, and that is the America I’m running for President to lead.

“On this Earth Day, let’s recapture in Washington, on Wall Street, and all across this country the spirit of unity and urgency that led those students to found Earth Day all those years ago. And if we can do that, then I truly believe we won’t just be freeing ourselves from the tyranny of oil, or saving this planet for our children, we’ll be fulfilling our obligation to be good stewards of God’s creation.”

Obama Addresses the Building Trades National Legislative Conference

Remarks for Senator Barack Obama
Building Trades National Legislative Conference
Washington, DC
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We meet here at a challenging time for our families and a challenging time for America. All across the country, Americans are anxious about their future. In a global economy with new rules and new risks, they’ve watched their government do its best to try and shift those risks onto the backs of the American worker. And they wonder how they will ever keep up.

In coffee shops and town meetings, in VFW halls and right here in this room, the questions are all the same: Will I be able to leave my children a better world than I was given? Will I be able to save enough to send them to college or plan for a secure retirement? Will my job even be there tomorrow? Who will stand up for me in this new world?

In this time of change and uncertainty, these questions are expected, but this isn’t the first time we’ve heard them. These are the same kinds of questions I heard over two decades ago after I turned down a job on Wall Street and went to work as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. The job was to help lift up neighborhoods that had been devastated by the closing of local steel plants. So I worked with unions and the city government to organize job-training for the jobless and hope for the hopeless, and block by block, we turned those neighborhoods around.

It showed me the fundamental truth that’s been at the heart of America’s success – and at the heart of the labor movement in this country – the idea that we all have mutual obligations to one another, that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper, and that in this country, we rise and fall together.

But we know that for the past seven and a half years, we’ve had a whole different philosophy in the White House. They call it the ownership society – but what it means is you’re on your own. You’re a worker who’s been laid off from a job? Tough luck, you’re on your own. You’re a single mom trying to find health care for your kids? Tough luck, you’re on your own. You’re a senior whose pension got dumped after a lifetime of hard work? Tough luck, you’re on your own.

It’s not just that this administration hasn’t been fighting for you; they’ve actually tried to stop you from fighting for yourselves. This is the most anti-labor administration in our memory. They don’t believe in unions. They don’t believe in organizing. They’ve packed the labor relations board with their corporate buddies. Well, we’ve got news for them – it’s not the Department of Management, it’s the Department of Labor, and we’re here to take it back. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

Now, John McCain seems to think the Bush years have been pretty good because he’s offering more of the same. And today’s a good reminder of that because it’s Tax Day. This is supposed to be a day when we pay what we owe to the government. But it’s become a day when George Bush’s Washington rewards its friends on Wall Street.

John McCain used to oppose the Bush tax cuts. He used to say that he couldn’t support a tax cut where “so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate.” He used to say that tax cuts in a time of war were a bad idea, and that they violated his “conscience.” But somewhere along the way to the Republican nomination, I guess he figured that he had to stop speaking his mind and start towing the line – because now he wants to make those tax cuts permanent.

So I respect Senator McCain. And I honor his service to this nation. But I don’t think America can afford four more years of the failed Bush policies, and that’s what he’s offering. We need to roll back the Bush-McCain tax cuts and invest in things like health care that are really important. Instead of giving tax breaks to the wealthy who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them, we should be putting a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working families. That’s why I’m the only candidate in this race who’s proposed a tax cut that would save our families $1,000 a year, and eliminate income taxes entirely for seniors making less than $50,000.

But let me be clear – this isn’t just about ending the failed policies of the Bush years; it’s about ending the failed system in Washington that produces those policies. For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans.

Think about it. The top mortgage lenders spend $185 million lobbying Congress, and we wonder why Washington looked the other way when they were tricking families into buying homes they couldn’t afford. Drug and insurance companies spend $1 billion on lobbying, and we wonder why the cost of health care continues to shoot up. When George Bush put Dick Cheney in charge of energy policy, Cheney met with the environmentalist groups once, he met with the renewable energy groups once, and he met with the oil and gas companies forty times. So it’s no wonder Exxon Mobile is making $11 billion a quarter when you’re paying close to $4 a gallon for gas.

We need a President who’s thinking about not just Wall Street, but Main Street; who’s not just looking to bump up a corporate bottom line, but to do what’s right for the American people. Because that’s the only way we’re going to bring about real change – change that will make a lasting difference in the lives of ordinary Americans.

I believe I can bring about that change – because I’m the only candidate in this race who’s actually worked to rein in the power of lobbyists by passing historic ethics reforms in Illinois and in the U.S. Senate. And I’m the only candidate who isn’t taking a dime from Washington lobbyists and PACs. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my administration, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people, of working people, of unions when I’m President of the United States.

Your voices will be heard. If you have any doubts, you can ask the union leaders in Illinois. When I was home talking to some of the local leaders there a couple of years ago, they told me they were being underbid on projects because unscrupulous builders were gaming the system. And I listened. They said that on some construction jobs, those builders were calling their employees “independent contractors” to get out of having to pay employment taxes and workers comp or overtime.

That didn’t sound right to me. So I set about leading an effort with Senator Durbin, Senator Kennedy and others in the Senate to end this practice. Because if you’re doing the same work as other employees, you should have worker protections, the same ability to organize, and the same wages and benefits. And I’ll fight to make that the law of the land when I’m President of the United States.

We’ll make sure Washington serves nobody’s interests but the people’s. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of playing defense. I’m ready to play some offense. I know the Building and Construction Trades are ready to play offense. We’re ready to play offense for the minimum wage. We’re ready to play offense for retirement security.

We’re ready to play offense for universal health care. It’s time we stood up to the drug and insurance companies who’ve been blocking reform for too long and tell them enough is enough. I refuse to accept that in the richest nation on Earth, we have to stand by while 47 million Americans go without health insurance, and millions more are being driven to financial ruin trying to pay their medical bills. I’m tired of seeing union members having to spend all their time negotiating about the health care they already have when they should be negotiating for better wages that can support their families.

We’re going to change that. We’re going to work with employers who are providing health care for their employees and lower premiums by up to $2,500 per family per year. And for those who don’t have health care, we’re going to set up a plan that’s as good as the one I have as a Member of Congress. And we’re not going to do it twenty years from now, or ten years from now. We’re going to do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States of America.

We’re ready to play offense for working Americans. We need to make sure workers building America’s infrastructure are making the prevailing wage and getting the benefits they deserve. After Katrina, George Bush suspended Davis-Bacon. Families had nothing left. Whole communities had been destroyed. But George Bush thought people didn’t deserve to make 9 or 10 bucks an hour to rebuild that city. And John McCain isn’t much different. He seems to think Davis-Bacon is something that comes from a pig farm. He’s opposed it time and time again. That’s wrong. We need to strengthen Davis-Bacon, and make sure any new infrastructure projects we’re proposing adhere to Davis-Bacon standards. And that’s what I’ll do when I’m President of the United States of America.

But it’s not enough to make sure we’re paying workers fair wages and benefits. We need to make sure the government uses project labor agreements to encourage completion of projects on time and on budget. One of the first things George Bush did when he got into office was to ban PLAs. That’s bad for workers and bad for America, and that’s why one of the first things I’ll do as President will be to repeal that ban and put PLAs back into place.

It’s time we had a President who didn’t choke saying the word “union.” It’s time we had a Democratic nominee who didn’t choke saying the word “union.” We need to strengthen our unions by letting them do what they do best – organize our workers. If a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union. And that is why I’ll fight for and why I intend to sign the Employee Free Choice Act when it lands on my desk in the White House.

Here’s what else we’ll do – we’ll put Americans back to work. I applaud your partnership with Helmets-to-Hardhats. I believe we have a responsibility to serve our soldiers as well as they’re serving us, and by helping make sure they have the skills to work in the trades when they come home, you’re living up to that responsibility. As President, I’ll support funding for this critical program.

And we won’t just promote job-training, we’ll promote job-creation. That’s why we’ll pass what I’m calling the Patriot Employer Act that I’ve been working on since I got to the Senate – because in my administration, we’re not going to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas; we’ll give them to companies that create good jobs with decent wages here in America.

We’re going to invest in this country. Back in the 1950’s, Americans were put to work building the Interstate Highway system and that helped expand our middle class. We need to show the same kind of leadership today. That’s why I’ve called for a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over ten years and generate millions of new jobs. We can’t keep standing by while our roads and bridges and airports crumble and decay. For our economy, our safety, and our workers, we have to rebuild America.

Investing in America means investing in the jobs of the future. We shouldn’t be sending billions of dollars to foreign nations because of our addiction to oil. We should be investing in American-made solar panels, windmills, and clean coal technology. That’s why I’ve proposed investing $150 billion over the next ten years in the green energy sector. This will create up to five million new American jobs – and those are jobs that pay well, and can’t be outsourced. That’s why this will be a priority in my administration.

Now, I know some will say we can’t afford all this. But it seems to me – if we can spend $10 billion a month rebuilding Iraq, we can spend $15 billion a year in our own country to create jobs and strengthen the long-term competitiveness of our economy.

But if we’re serious about fighting for our workers here at home, we’ve got to fight for them around the world. Now, the truth is trade is here to stay, and that if we have strong labor and environmental protections in our agreements, and if our trading partners are playing by the rules, trade can be a good thing for our workers and our economy. But what we can’t do is ignore violence against union organizers in Colombia. What we can’t do is sign trade deals that put the interests of multinational corporations ahead of the interests of our workers or our environment. That’s why I opposed NAFTA, and CAFTA, and that’s why I’ll make sure our trade agreements work for all Americans when I’m President of the United States.

So make no mistake - the American people have a choice in this election. We can talk about our economic problems all we want, but unless we change the broken system in Washington, nothing else is going to change. We can talk all we want about standing up for our workers, but unless we have a President you can trust to listen and put working Americans first, nothing is really going to change.

And you can trust me. Because politics didn’t lead me to working folks; working folks led me to politics. I was standing with American workers on the streets of Chicago twenty years ago, and the reason I’m here today is because I don’t want to wake up one day many years from now and see that our workers are still being denied the wages and benefits and rights that they deserve, or that we still haven't made the investments in infrastructure and in training our workers that we desperately need.

The reason I’m here today is because I know what it’s like to go to college on student loans, and see a mother get sick and worry that maybe she can’t pay the bills. I know what it’s like to have to scratch and work and claw to build a better life for your family. And I don’t want to wake up many years from now and find that the American dream is still out of reach for too many Americans.

The reason I’m here today is because I believe that if we can just put an end to the politics of division and distraction, and reclaim that sense that we all have a stake in each other, that we rise and fall as one nation; if we can just unite this country around a common purpose – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American; labor and management; Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – there’s no obstacle we cannot overcome, no destiny we cannot fulfill.

That’s the fundamental truth I learned on the streets of Chicago. That’s the idea at the heart of the Building and Construction Trades. And that’s the opportunity we have in this election. There is a moment in the life of every generation where that spirit of unity and hopefulness has to come through if we’re going to make our mark on history. This is our moment. This is our time. I’m proud and honored that the first union endorsement I received in this campaign was from a Building and Construction Trades union – the Plumbers and Pipefitters. And I’d be proud and honored to have all of your support. And if you will march with me, and organize with me, and if you vote for me, then I promise you this: We will not just win this Democratic Nomination, we will win the general election and then together – you and I – we’re going to change this country, and we’re going to change this world. Thank you.

Obama Addresses the AP Annual Luncheon

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
AP Annual Luncheon
Monday, April 14th, 2008
Washington, DC

Good afternoon. I know I kept a lot of you guys busy this weekend with the comments I made last week. Some of you might even be a little bitter about that.

As I said yesterday, I regret some of the words I chose, partly because the way that these remarks have been interpreted have offended some people and partly because they have served as one more distraction from the critical debate that we must have in this election season.

I’m a person of deep faith, and my religion has sustained me through a lot in my life. I even gave a speech on faith before I ever started running for President where I said that Democrats, “make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people’s lives.” I also represent a state with a large number of hunters and sportsmen, and I understand how important these traditions are to families in Illinois and all across America. And, contrary to what my poor word choices may have implied or my opponents have suggested, I’ve never believed that these traditions or people’s faith has anything to do with how much money they have.

But I will never walk away from the larger point that I was trying to make. For the last several decades, people in small towns and cities and rural areas all across this country have seen globalization change the rules of the game on them. When I began my career as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago, I saw what happens when the local steel mill shuts its doors and moves overseas. You don’t just lose the jobs in the mill, you start losing jobs and businesses throughout the community. The streets are emptier. The schools suffer.

I saw it during my campaign for the Senate in Illinois when I’d talk to union guys who had worked at the local Maytag plant for twenty, thirty years before being laid off at fifty-five years old when it picked up and moved to Mexico; and they had no idea what they’re going to do without the paycheck or the pension that they counted on. One man didn’t even know if he’d be able to afford the liver transplant his son needed now that his health care was gone.

I’ve heard these stories almost every day during this campaign, whether it was in Iowa or Ohio or Pennsylvania. And the people I’ve met have also told me that every year, in every election, politicians come to their towns, and they tell them what they want to hear, and they make big promises, and then they go back to Washington when the campaign’s over, and nothing changes. There’s no plan to address the downside of globalization. We don’t do anything about the skyrocketing cost of health care or college or those disappearing pensions. Instead of fighting to replace jobs that aren’t coming back, Washington ends up fighting over the latest distraction of the week.

And after years and years and years of this, a lot of people in this country have become cynical about what government can do to improve their lives. They are angry and frustrated with their leaders for not listening to them; for not fighting for them; for not always telling them the truth. And yes, they are bitter about that.

Now, Senator McCain and the Republicans in Washington are already looking ahead to the fall and have decided that they plan on using these comments to argue that I’m out of touch with what’s going on in the lives of working Americans. I don’t blame them for this -- that’s the nature of our political culture, and if I had to carry the banner for eight years of George Bush’s failures, I’d be looking for something else to talk about too.

But I will say this. If John McCain wants to turn this election into a contest about which party is out of touch with the struggles and the hopes of working America, that’s a debate I’m happy to have. In fact, I think that’s a debate we need to have. Because I believe that the real insult to the millions of hard-working Americans out there would be a continuation of the economic agenda that has dominated Washington for far too long.

I may have made a mistake last week in the words that I chose, but the other party has made a much more damaging mistake in the failed policies they’ve chosen and the bankrupt philosophy they’ve embraced for the last three decades.

It’s a philosophy that says there’s no role for government in making the global economy work for working Americas; that we have to just sit back watch those factories close and those jobs disappear; that there’s nothing we can do or should do about workers without health care, or children in crumbling schools, or families who are losing their homes, and so we should just hand out a few tax breaks and wish everyone the best of luck.

Ronald Reagan called this trickle-down economics. George Bush called it the Ownership Society. But what it really means is that you’re on your own. If your premiums or your tuition is rising faster than you can afford, you’re on your own. If you’re that Maytag worker who just lost his pension, tough luck. If you’re a child born into poverty, you’ll just have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

This philosophy isn’t just out-of-touch – it’s put our economy out-of-whack. Years of pain on Main Street have finally trickled up to Wall Street and sent us hurtling toward recession, reminding us that we’re all connected – that we can’t prosper as a nation where a few people are doing well and everyone else is struggling.

John McCain is an American hero and a worthy opponent, but he’s proven time and time again that he just doesn’t understand this. It took him three tries in seven days just to figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was an actual problem. He’s had a front row seat to the last eight years of disastrous policies that have widened the income gap and saddled our children with debt, and now he’s promising four more years of the very same thing.

He’s promising to make permanent the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest few who didn’t need them and didn’t ask for them – tax breaks that are so irresponsible that John McCain himself once said they offended his conscience.

He’s promising four more years of trade deals that don’t have a single safeguard for American workers – that don’t help American workers compete and win in a global economy.

He’s promising four more years of an Administration that will push for the privatization of Social Security – a plan that would gamble away people’s retirement on the stock market; a plan that was already rejected by Democrats and Republicans under George Bush.

He’s promising four more years of policies that won’t guarantee health insurance for working Americans; that won’t bring down the rising cost of college tuition; that won’t do a thing for the Americans who are living in those communities where the jobs have left and the factories have shut their doors.

And yet, despite all this, the other side is still betting that the American people won’t notice that John McCain is running for George Bush’s third term. They think that they’ll forget about all that’s happened in the last eight years; that they’ll be tricked into believing that it’s either me or our party is the one that’s out of touch with what’s going on in their lives.

Well I’m making a different bet. I’m betting on the American people.

The men and women I’ve met in small towns and big cities across this country see this election as a defining moment in our history. They understand what’s at stake here because they’re living it every day. And they are tired of being distracted by fake controversies. They are fed up with politicians trying to divide us for their own political gain. And I believe they’ll see through the tactics that are used every year, in every election, to appeal to our fears, or our biases, or our differences – because they’ve never wanted or needed change as badly as they do now.

The people I’ve met during this campaign know that government cannot solve all of our problems, and they don’t expect it to. They don’t want our tax dollars wasted on programs that don’t work or perks for special interests who don’t work for us. They understand that we cannot stop every job from going overseas or build a wall around our economy, and they know that we shouldn’t.

But they believe it’s finally time that we make health care affordable and available for every single American; that we bring down costs for workers and for businesses; that we cut premiums, and stop insurance companies from denying people care or coverage who need it most.

They believe it’s time we provided real relief to the victims of this housing crisis; that we help families refinance their mortgage so they can stay in their homes; that we start giving tax relief to the people who actually need it – middle-class families, and seniors, and struggling homeowners.

They believe that we can and should make the global economy work for working Americans; that we might not be able to stop every job from going overseas, but we certainly can stop giving tax breaks to companies who send them their and start giving tax breaks to companies who create good jobs right here in America. We can invest in the types of renewable energy that won’t just reduce our dependence on oil and save our planet, but create up to five million new jobs that can’t be outsourced.

They believe we can train our workers for those new jobs, and keep the most productive workforce the most competitive workforce in the world if we fix our public education system by investing in what works and finding out what doesn’t; if we invest in early childhood education and finally make college affordable for everyone who wants to go; if we stop talking about how great our teachers are and start rewarding them for their greatness.

They believe that if you work your entire life, you deserve to retire with dignity and respect, which means a pension you can count on, and Social Security that’s always there.

This is what the people I’ve met believe about the country they love. It doesn’t matter if they’re Democrats or Republicans; whether they’re from the smallest towns or the biggest cities; whether they hunt or they don’t; whether they go to church, or temple, or mosque, or not. We may come from different places and have different stories, but we share common hopes, and one very American dream.

That is the dream I am running to help restore in this election. If I get the chance, that is what I’ll be talking about from now until November. That is the choice that I’ll offer the American people – four more years of what we had for the last eight, or fundamental change in Washington.

People may be bitter about their leaders and the state of our politics, but beneath that, they are hopeful about what’s possible in America. That’s why they leave their homes on their day off, or their jobs after a long day of work, and travel – sometimes for miles, sometimes in the bitter cold – to attend a rally or a town hall meeting held by Senator Clinton, or Senator McCain, or myself. Because they believe that we can change things. Because they believe in that dream.

I know something about that dream. I wasn’t born into a lot of money. I was raised by a single mother with the help my grandparents, who grew up in small-town Kansas, went to school on the GI Bill, and bought their home through an FHA loan. My mother had to use food stamps at one point, but she still made sure that through scholarships, I got a chance to go to some of the best schools around, which helped me get into some of the best colleges around, which gave me loans that Michelle and I just finished paying not all that many years ago.

In other words, my story is a quintessentially American story. It’s the same story that has made this country a beacon for the world—a story of struggle and sacrifice on the part of my forebearers and a story overcoming great odds. I carry that story with me each and every day, It’s why I wake up every day and do this, and it’s why I continue to hold such hope for the future of a country where the dreams of its people have always been possible. Thank you.

Obama Addresses the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Remarks for Senator Barack Obama
Alliance for American Manufacturing
Monday, April 14, 2008
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Being here in Pennsylvania with the primary coming up, I know that politics is what’s on a lot of people’s minds. But as I look out at this crowd, I also know that being here isn’t just about politics for me. It’s personal. Because it reminds me why I entered public service in the first place.

As some of you might know, after college, I went to work as a community organizer for a group of churches on the South Side of Chicago. The job was to help lift communities that had been devastated when the local steel plants fell on hard times. Thousands of folks had been laid off and some plants were closing down. And I can still remember the first time I saw a shuttered steel mill.

It was late in the afternoon and I took a drive with another organizer over to the old Wisconsin Steel plant on the southeast side of Chicago. Some of you may know it. And as we drove up, I saw a sight that’s probably familiar to some of you. I saw a plant that was empty and rusty. And behind a chain-link fence, I saw weeds sprouting up through the concrete, and an old mangy cat running around. And I thought about all the good jobs it used to provide, and all the kids who used to work there in the summer to make some extra money for college.

What I came to understand was that when a plant shuts down, it’s not just the workers who pay a price, it’s the whole community. I saw folks who felt like their government wasn’t looking out for them and who had given up hope. So I worked with unions and the city government, and we brought the community together to fight for its common future. We gave job-training to the jobless and hope to the hopeless, and block by block, we helped turn those neighborhoods around.

More than twenty years later, as I’ve traveled across Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and Ohio, and all across this country, I’m still seeing too many places where plants have closed down and where folks are feeling like they’re not getting a fair shot at life, like their dreams are slipping further out of reach. And that’s partly because of the same kinds of global economic pressures that led steel plants in Chicago to close down in the 1980s.

But it’s also because George Bush has pursued policies that don’t work for working Americans. In recent years, we’ve seen more than 3 million high-quality manufacturing jobs disappear, and more than 40,000 factories close down. And more often than not, the few jobs that are being created pay less than the ones we’re losing and come without health insurance or a pension, which makes it even harder for families to feel secure about their future.

But we also know this is a problem that goes beyond the failures of George Bush – because for decades, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, we’ve seen the number of American-owned steel companies dwindle down. For decades, our economic policies have been written to pump up a corporate bottom line, rather than promote what’s right, without any consideration for the burden we all bear when workers are abused or the environment is destroyed.

It’s an outrage, but it’s not an accident – because corporate lobbyists in Washington are writing our laws and putting their clients’ interests ahead of what’s fair for the American people. The men and women you represent haven’t been getting a seat at the table when trade agreements are being negotiated, or tax policies are being written, or health care and pension laws are being designed because the special interests have bought every chair.

That’s not the America I believe in. That’s not the America you believe in. And that’s why when I’m President, we’ll make sure Washington serves nobody’s interests but the people’s.

You know, there’s been a lot of talk in this campaign lately about who’s “in touch” with the workers of Pennsylvania. Senator Clinton and Senator McCain are singing from the same hymn book, saying that I'm “out of touch” – an “elitist” – because I said a lot of folks are bitter about their economic circumstances.

Now it may be that I chose my words badly. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. But when I hear my opponents, both of whom have spent decades in Washington, saying I'm out of touch, it's time to cut through their rhetoric and look at the reality.

After all, you've heard this kind of rhetoric before. Around election time, the candidates can’t do enough for you. They'll “promise you anything, give you a long list of proposals and even come around, with TV crews in tow, to throw back a shot and a beer.

But if those same candidates are taking millions of dollars in contributions from the PACs and lobbyists, ask yourself, who are they going to be toasting once the election is over?

I’m the only candidate who doesn’t take money from corporate PACs and lobbyists, and I’m here to tell you that you can count on me to stand up for you after this election, just as I’ve been standing up for workers all my life. That’s why I’m running for President of the United States.

Senator Clinton and Senator McCain question my respect for the workers of Pennsylvania. Well, let me tell you how I believe you demonstrate your respect. You do it by telling the truth and keeping your word, so folks can know that where you stand today is where you'll stand tomorrow.

The truth is, trade is here to stay. We live in a global economy. For America’s future to be as bright as our past, we have to compete. We have to win.

Not every job that has left is coming back. And not every job lost is due to trade –automation has made plants more efficient so they can make the same amount of steel with few workers. These are the realities.

I also don't oppose all trade deals. I voted for two of them because they have the worker and environmental agreements I believe in. Some of you disagreed with me on this but I did what I thought was right.

That's the truth. But let me tell you what else I believe in:

For America to win, American workers have to win, too. If CEO pay keeps rising, while the standard of living for their workers continues to decline, that’s not a win for America.

That’s why I opposed NAFTA, it’s why I opposed CAFTA, and it’s why I said any trade agreement I would support had to contain real, enforceable standards for workers.

That’s why I believe the Permanent Normalized Trade agreement with China didn’t do enough to ensure fairness and compliance.

Now, you can have a debate about whether my position is right or wrong. But here’s what you can’t do. You can’t spend the better part of two decades campaigning for NAFTA and PNTR for China, and then come here to Pennsylvania, and tell the steelworkers you’ve been with them all along. You can't say you are opposed to the Columbia Trade deal, while your key strategist is working for the Columbian government to get the deal passed.

That’s not respect. That’s just more of the same old Washington politics. And we can’t afford more of the same.

We need real change, and that’s what I’m offering. I’m offering a new, more transparent and more inclusive path on trade so we can help promote an integrated global economy where the costs and benefits are distributed more equitably. And it starts with a principle I’ve always believed in – that trade should work for all Americans.

That’s why we need to finally confront the issue of trade with China. As I’ve said before, America and the world can benefit from trade with China. But trade with China will only be good for you if China itself plays by the rules and acts as a positive force for balanced world growth.

Seeing the living standards of the Chinese people improve is a good thing – good because we want a stable China, and good because China can be a powerful market for American exports. But too often, China has been competing in ways that are tilting the playing field.

It’s not just that China is following the path taken by so many other countries before it, and dumping goods into our market while not opening their own markets, something I’ve spoken out against. It’s not just that they’re violating intellectual property rights. They’re also grossly undervaluing their currency, and giving their goods yet another unfair advantage. Each year they’ve had the chance, the Bush administration has failed to do anything about this. That’s unacceptable. That’s why I co-sponsored the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. And that’s why as President, I’ll use all the diplomatic avenues open to me to insist that China stop manipulating its currency.

We also have to make sure that whatever goods we’re importing are safe for our families. We all saw the harm that was caused by lead toys from China that were reaching our store shelves. A few months ago, when I called for a ban on any toys that have more than a trace amount of lead, an official at China’s foreign ministry said I was being “unobjective, unreasonable, and unfair.” But I don’t think protecting our children is “unreasonable” – I think it’s our obligation as parents and as Americans.

When it comes to trade, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. If countries are committed to reciprocity, if they are abiding by basic rules of the road, then we should welcome trade. Many poor countries need access to our markets and pose no threat to our workers.

But what all trade agreements I negotiate as President will have in common is that they'll all put American workers first. We won't ignore violence against union organizers in Columbia, or the non-tariff barriers that keep U.S. cars out of South Korea.

And we won’t just negotiate fair trade agreements, we’ll make sure they’re being fully enforced. George Bush has been far too slow to press American rights. That’s an outrage. When our trading partners sign an agreement with the Obama administration, you can trust that we’ll hold them to it.

Now, if we’re serious about standing up for American workers around the world, we also have to fight for you here at home. That means passing universal health care and making sure every American has insurance you can take with you even if you lose your job, and that a college degree is within reach, even if you’re not rich – because all our children should have the skills to compete in the global economy.

And it also means protecting the rights of our workers. It’s time we had a President who didn’t choke saying the word “union.” We need to strengthen our unions by letting them do what they do best – organize our workers. If a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union, no matter whether they’re full-time, or part-time, or contract workers. And that is why I will fight for and why I intend to sign the Employee Free Choice Act when it lands on my desk in the White House.

Here’s what else I’ll do: we’ll pass the Patriot Employer Act that I’ve been working on since I got to the Senate – so we can stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and start giving them to companies that create good jobs with decent wages here in America.

And to those who think that the decline in American manufacturing is inevitable; or that manufacturing has no place in a 21st century economy; we say right here and right now that the fight for manufacturing’s future is the fight for America’s future. And that’s why we’ll modernize our steel industry, strengthen our entire domestic manufacturing base, and open as many markets as we can to American manufactured goods when I’m President.

We’ll also make necessary long-term investments in job-growth. Back in the 1950’s, Americans were put to work building the Interstate Highway system and that helped expand the middle class in this country. We need to show the same kind of leadership today. That’s why I’ve called for a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over ten years and generate millions of new jobs. We can’t keep standing by while our roads and bridges and airports crumble and decay. We can’t keep running our economy on debt. For our economy, our safety, and our workers, we have to rebuild America.

And we need to invest in green technology. We can’t keep sending billions of dollars to foreign nations because of our addiction to oil. We should be investing in American companies that invest in American-manufactured solar panels and windmills, and in clean coal technology. That’s why I’ve proposed investing $150 billion over the next ten years in the green energy sector. This will create up to five million new American jobs – and those are jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. That’s a promise that we are making not just to this generation of Americans, but to the next generation of Americans. And that’s why this will be a priority in my administration.

Now, I know some will say we can’t afford all this. But let me just say this – if we can spend $10 billion a month rebuilding Iraq, we can spend $15 billion a year in our own country to put Americans back to work and strengthen the long-term competitiveness of our economy.

So make no mistake - the American people have a choice in this election. We can talk about our economic problems with trade all we want, but unless we change the broken system in Washington, nothing else is going to change. We can talk all we want about respecting workers and their way of life, but unless we have a President you can trust to listen and put working Americans first, nothing is really going to change.

And you can trust me. Because politics didn’t lead me to working folks; working folks led me to politics. I was standing with American workers on the streets of Chicago twenty years ago, and the reason I’m here today is because I don’t want to wake up one day many years from now and see that our companies are still getting hurt because foreign governments are still bending or breaking the rules, or that we’re still standing idly by while American jobs get shipped overseas, or that we still haven't made the investments in infrastructure and in training our workers that we desperately need.

The reason I’m here today is because I know what it’s like to go to college on student loans, and see a mother get sick and worry that maybe she can’t pay the bills. I know what it’s like to have to scratch and work and claw to build a better life for your family. And I don’t want to wake up many years from now and find that the American dream is still out of reach for too many Americans.

The reason I’m here today is because I believe that if we can just put an end to the politics of division and distraction, and reclaim that sense that we all have a stake in each other, that we rise and fall as one nation; if we can just unite this country around a common purpose – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American; labor and management; Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – there’s no obstacle we cannot overcome, no destiny we cannot fulfill.

That’s the fundamental truth I learned on the streets of Chicago. That’s the idea at the heart of your Alliance for Manufacturing. And that’s the opportunity we have in this election. There is a moment in the life of every generation where that spirit of unity and hopefulness has to come through if we’re going to make our mark on history. This is our moment. This is our time. And if you will march with me, and organize with me, if you vote for me, then I promise you this: We will not just win this Democratic Nomination, we will win the general election and then together – you and I – we’re going to change this country, and we’re going to change this world. Thank you.