What is unique about America is that we want these dreams for more than ourselves - we want them for each other. That's why we call it the American dream. We want it for:
- the kid who doesn't go to college because she cannot afford it;
- for the worker whose wondering if his wages will pay this winter's heating bill;
- for 47 million Americans living without health care;
- for the millions more who worry if they have enough to retire with the dignity they have earned.
While some have prospered beyond imagination in this global economy, middle-class Americans - as well as those working hard to become middle class - are seeing the American dream slip further and further away.
You know it from your own lives. Americans are working harder for less and paying more for health care and college.
For most folks, one income isn't enough to raise a family and send your kids to college. Sometimes, two incomes aren't enough. It's harder to save. It's harder to retire. You're doing your part, you're meeting your responsibilities, but it always seems like you're treading water or falling behind.
And as I see this every day on the campaign trail, I'm reminded of how unlikely it is that the dreams of my family could be realized today.
Reclaiming America from Bush & Cheney
I don't accept this future. We need to reclaim the American dream. And that starts with reclaiming the White House from George Bush and Dick Cheney. We're tired of tax cuts for the wealthy that shift the burden onto the backs of working people.
We're tired of waiting ten years for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay is soaring.
We're tired of more Americans going without health care, of more Americans falling into poverty, of more American kids who have the brains and the drive to go to college - but can't - because they can't afford it.
We're ready for the Bush Administration to end, because we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
But this is about more than George Bush. He's just the beginning of the change that we need. These problems didn't start when he came to office and they won't end just because he's leaving.
We're not going to reclaim that dream:
- unless we put an end to the politics of polarization and division that is holding this country back;
- unless we stand up to the corporate lobbyists that have stood in the way of progress;
- unless we have leadership that doesn't just tell people what they want to hear - but tells everyone what they need to know.
I believe that Americans want to come together again behind a common purpose. Americans want to reclaim our American dream. That's why I'm running for President of the United States. It's the same reason I packed up my car and moved to Chicago. Because in this country, that dream is worth fighting for - not just for ourselves, but for each other.
And that's why I don't think you should settle for a President who's only there for you when it's easy or convenient or popular - I think you deserve a President who you can trust will fight for your dreams every hour of every day for the next four years. That's the change we need.
An Economy for Working People
This starts with an economy that works for working people. Americans don't expect government to solve all our problems.
But you're tired of a government that works for special interests, and not for you. It's time that we had leadership that worried as much about Main Street as it does about Wall Street.
That's why I'm introducing an American Dream agenda - to put some wind at the backs of working people, to lower the cost of getting ahead, and to protect and extend opportunity for the middle class. We need to give working families a break.
Tax Breaks for Working Families and Seniors
For twenty-five years, we've seen gaps in wealth grow larger, while our tax code that favors wealth over work. That's why I've proposed an income tax cut to offset the payroll tax that working Americans are already paying. This will be worth up to $1000 for a working family.
I'll make retirement more secure for America's seniors by eliminating income taxes for any retiree making less than $50,000 per year.
And I won't wait ten years to raise the minimum wage - I'll guarantee that it goes up every single year. That's the change that working Americans need.
We know that the cost of the American dream must never come at the expense of the American family. You're working longer hours. More families have two parents working. Meanwhile, it's hard to get a hand. It's even harder to get a break.
Expand Family Medical Act and After-School Programs
That's why I'll double spending on quality after-school programs - so that you can know your kids are safe and secure.
And that's why I'll expand the Family Medical Leave Act to include more businesses and millions more workers; to let parents participate in school activities with their kids; and to cover elderly care. And we'll finally put federal support behind state efforts to provide paid Family and Medical Leave.
We also need to change a system that is stacked against women.
Forty percent of working women do not have a single paid sick day. More and more women are denied jobs or promotions because they've got kids at home. As the son of a single mother, that is not the America that I believe in.