Mr. President, next week you are going to lay out a plan that to improve our economy and create jobs. In this moment of national need, and on behalf of the mute millions who continue to suffer because of our past mistakes, I ask you to step forward with new courage.
Like many Americans, I supported you because I trusted that you would fight for change we can believe in. I am concerned that you are about to present a plan that does not fully address the serious problems Americans face as families and as a nation.
For months I have been travelling around Massachusetts listening to people talk about their hopes and fears — not only for themselves, but for the United States. They know that we are not living in ordinary times. They believe that our country is on the wrong track.
Many of the proposals that have been put forward by the Congress would deepen this cycle of loss, cutting more programs, firing more people, and deepening the crisis. It is time for you, as President, to stop this spiral of decay.
People are seeing the most basic foundations of middle class life — a good home, a good school, a good doctor, and a good job — be yanked away from them. They are now looking for someone to defend them and for someone to act without concern for party politics. Now they are looking for a president.
On the one hand, we have millions of people who want to step forward to work. On the other hand, we have millions of jobs that need to be done. We need you to connect these two circuits so that American power can flow once again.
If the people had jobs, they would pay taxes, catch up on their mortgages, and buy products that would fuel more growth and help close the deficit.
Yes, it is true that the private sector can and should provide most of the jobs in this economy. But right now, because of structural problems created by a financial system run amok, this is not happening fast enough. Tinkering with interest rates and tax codes has not worked and will not work. And firing people is the opposite of hiring them.
When people are drowning, we don’t tell them to learn to swim – we throw them a lifeline. Mr. President, that lifeline is now in your hands, as it was in the hands of Franklin Roosevelt.
I challenge you to seize the opportunity and the responsibility of throwing that lifeline to the American people: by creating millions of new jobs through a direct investment program of $100 billion a year.
America became a great nation because we were committed to innovation, to investment, and to integrity. To these things, in our hour of distress, we must recommit.
This investment of $100 billion annually would create millions of jobs through direct government funding. It would have an immediate multiplier effect. It would simultaneously rebuild our roads and our schools, provide jobs in health care and childcare, jumpstart local revenues, create new markets for energy improvements, and launch the new American economy that is struggling to be born.
I urge you not to present us with a proposal that is many days late and many dollars short. Of course some will say that we cannot afford this. In truth, we cannot afford to avoid it. If we embraced a strong and serious plan to cut our foreign wars, slash loopholes, and boost revenues from the wealthy who have been shielded from the storm, we would find the dollars. We have done so before. When we were faced with a national crisis after 9/11, the president and Congress authorized emergency spending. This is another emergency and we must do so again.
I challenge you to stop listening to the voices in Congress and on Wall Street who tell us what we cannot do. This is America. We invented the telephone, the lightbulb, the automohile, the airplane, the microchip, the computer, and the Internet. We pulled our people out of a depression and we defeated the greatest tyrannies in history. We have overcome greater difficulties in the past than those that face us in the present. What made the difference was that our past presidents decided to lead.
Mr. President, as a supporter of yours, I say to you: no more half-measures. No more false starts. Speak to us from your heart. Act from your center. Do not tip-toe around the great challenges of the day.
Let us face the great moral and structural test of this moment. For our citizens work is important, and there is important work to be done.
Let us step forward boldly in defiance of those who say that the days of American greatness have passed.
Let us invent the future and invest in tomorrow. And let us live according to the promises that we have made to each other and to our children. That is your responsibility, and, if you are willing, it will be our destiny.