September 17, 2003 - The Manchester Union-Leader - by, Senator John Kerry
TWELVE YEARS ago, Gov. Bill Clinton announced his candidacy for President with a pledge to “fight for the forgotten middle class.” He called for a tax cut for middle class families, cutting the deficit in half in four years, and restoring investment in jobs, the skills of our workers, and economic growth.
Clinton economics worked — nearly 40 million hard-working families got a tax cut, we created 23 million new jobs and witnessed record high family incomes and the fastest real wage growth in more than 30 years.
With George W. Bush in the White House, the middle class has been forgotten all over again. More than three million jobs lost, retirement and college savings gone in a flash, investment in skills and training plummeting. In the last years the cost of the average home for families with children has grown 70 times faster than average incomes.
In November of 2004, Democrats need to offer America’s middle class a clear choice: jobs or no jobs, making health care more affordable or continuing skyrocketing costs, a return to fiscal discipline or more fiscal insanity, tax relief for middle class families or tax loopholes for corporate special interests.
George W. Bush stands in the way — but so does a debate within our party.
Before all of America votes, we Democrats are going to have to make our own choice: are we going to imitate George W. Bush in forgetting the middle class or are we going to be the party that fights for the middle class? Will we turn our back on the progress of the Clinton years or will we follow his lead in assuring middle class voters that Democrats will defend their interests and honor their values?
That’s why I am so concerned that some of my fellow Democratic candidates for President, most prominently former Gov. Howard Dean and U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, have adopted policies in the course of this campaign that — in effect — turn their back on both the Clinton economic legacy and the very middle class families the Democratic Party has historically defended.