Editorial: Democrats Offer a New Direction
September 22, 2006; Page A10
We need a Democratic Congress to fight the war on terror -- and to end the war on America's families. Republican policies of the last five years have damaged our economy and failed Americans. Democrats believe strengthening the middle class is essential for a thriving economy that rewards work, provides economic opportunity to all and makes it easier for parents to devote time to their families. An economy that favors the top 1% at the expense of everyone else might be good for President Bush's politics, but a shrinking middle class is bad for capitalism, democracy and America. We need a new direction.
The Republican record on managing the federal budget is dismal. Republicans have turned surplus into debt, hope into lost opportunity; they have become the party of borrow-and-spend. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the total cost this year of the president's tax cuts is $258 billion. This means that even with spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the response to Hurricane Katrina, the federal budget would essentially be in balance if the tax cuts had not been enacted, or if they had been offset as required under the pay-as-you-go rules that Republicans allowed to expire. These economic policies amount to a war on American families:
These bleak statistics explain why the overwhelming majority of Americans know our country is moving in the wrong direction -- despite the economic cheerleading of the Republicans. Americans know who has benefited in this economy -- and, for most, it isn't them.
The president's failures in Iraq are also hurting our economy, our country and our ability to fight the war on terror. We are spending $8 billion a month in Iraq -- that's $267 million a day. Consider that for what we spend in three weeks in Iraq, we could make needed improvements to secure our public transportation system; for what we spend in five days we could double the COPS program, and put more police on the streets to keep our neighborhoods safe, or we could put radiation detectors at all our ports.
Democrats offer America a new direction in fiscal policy, for the middle class, and in the war in Iraq. We believe that America should work for everyone:
We will restore honesty in government, starting with the pay-as-you-go discipline in Congress that served Mr. Clinton so well. Balancing the Federal budget will be a high priority with concurrent limitation of spending. We will ease the burdens on middle class Americans and reverse Republican cuts in college tuition aid and health care. We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American, including pension reform, and preventing the privatization of social security.
We will dramatically expand support of energy independence in order to generate large numbers of new American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We will have a jobs agenda that includes good jobs that stay in America, a higher minimum wage and trade policies that benefit the global labor force, not just multinational corporations.
We will have a defense policy that is tough and smart, starting with phased redeployment of our troops in Iraq, and shore up our efforts to attack al Qaeda and fight the war on terror. We also will close the gaps in our security here at home by implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
We are ready to lead with a thoughtful, fiscally responsible long-term vision. We will reach out to all Americans who value hope over fear and begin moving the country forward again.
Mr. Dean is chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Originally published in The Wall Street Journal.