Believe in your ability to bring about change

Posted Oct. 31, 2008, at 9:19 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 3:27 a.m.

After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years of failed policies from George Bush and 20 months of campaigning, we are three days away from change for Maine and for America.

When we began this journey, we knew how steep our climb would be. But I believed that Democrats and Republicans and Americans of every political stripe were hungry for new ideas and a new kind of politics that favors common sense over ideology and focuses on the values and ideals we hold in common as Americans.

Twenty months later, my faith in the American people has been vindicated. We’ve come so far and so close to changing this country. But we can’t let up now. Not when so much is at stake.

We face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We’ve seen over 19,000 manufacturing jobs lost in Maine since 2000 as the Bush-McCain trickle-down economic strategy has continued to lavish tax cuts on corporations shipping factory and mill jobs overseas. Home values are falling and pensions are disappearing. Home heating costs are through the roof. Wages are lower than they’ve been in a decade, while the costs of health care and college have never been higher.

But when it comes to the economy, my opponent has stood with President Bush every step of the way — supporting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy he once opposed, voting for the Bush budgets that spent us into a record debt that will cost every Mainer more than $30,000 to pay back, calling for less regulation 20 times just this year, and voting against home heating assistance for families. And now, after 20 months and three debates, Sen. John McCain hasn’t been able to tell the American people one thing he’d do to separate his economy from George Bush’s.

We’ve tried it their way. This country can’t take four more years of the same old politics and the same failed policies that got us into this mess. It is time to turn the page.

I believe in rewarding work and the workers who create it. I’ll give a tax break to 95 percent of working Americans, including 700,000 Maine families, and eliminate income taxes for 24,000 Maine seniors. If you are one of the vast majority of Americans who make under $250,000 — including 98 percent of small-business owners — you won’t see your taxes increase by a single dime under my plan.

Unlike John McCain, I’ll end tax breaks for corporations that send our jobs overseas and give American businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they create here at home. I’ll eliminate capital gains taxes on investments in the 154,000 small businesses in Maine, the engines of our job creation.

We’ll create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges and schools, including 10,000 jobs here in Maine. And we’ll invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy, like wind power, to create 5 million green jobs over the next decade that pay well, can’t be outsourced and help us end our dependence on Middle East oil.

When it comes to health care, we don’t have to choose between a government-run system and the unaffordable one we have now. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change under my plan is that your costs will go down by an average of $2,500 for every Maine family. If you’re one of the 115,000 Mainers who don’t, you’ll have affordable access to the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves.

And to guarantee every child a world-class education, I’ll invest in early childhood education and recruit an army of new teachers. But I’ll also demand higher standards and more accountability. And we’ll make a deal with every young American: If you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford your tuition.

I won’t pretend that any of this will be easy — especially now. But as I’ve said from the day we began this journey, the change we need isn’t just about new programs and policies. It’s about a new politics that calls on our better angels instead of encouraging our worst instincts; one that reminds us of the obligations we have to ourselves and one another.

At this defining moment, I ask you to believe not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours. In just three days, we can come together as one nation, one people, and once more choose our better history. If you will stand with me, and give me your vote, I promise you, we won’t just win this election; together, we will change this country and change the world.

Barack Obama is the Democratic candidate for president.

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