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DLC's "Saving the American Dream" Plan: Radical Help for the Middle Class

Smart New Ideas Authored by Senator Hillary Clinton


Updated August 03, 2006
In July 2006, the Democratic Leadership Council released its radical new initiative report, "Saving the American Dream: Bold Ideas for America's Future," which was chaired and authored by Senator Hillary Clinton, and co-chaired by Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and Senator Tom Carper of Delaware.

The DLC: Centrist Wing of the Democratic Party

Founded in 1985 after President Ronald Reagan's reelection, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) is a non-profit group that represents centrist and conservative Democratic party leaders.

Liberal critics contend that the DLC is a corporate mouthpiece which doesn't fight for the interests of everyday and downtrodden Americans, the traditional base of the Democratic party.

President Bill Clinton was elected in 1991 largely due to support from the DLC. And the DLC views President Clinton as proof of the viability of "third way politicians" and as a DLC success story.

New DLC Agenda Is Radical Change

The new DLC agenda is a radical change and smart political strategy for this centrist group because it espouses help for middle-class Americans in five specific areas:
1. college education
2. health insurance
3. retirement security
4. job security through training
5. home ownership

While the liberal wing of the Democratic party focuses on the Iraq War and foreign policy as its centerpice issues for 2006 and 2008, the DLC, and Senator Hillary Clinton, believe that focus on the needs of individual Americans will resonate more strongly when voters cast their ballots.

The following is the quick-reading digest of Saving the American Dream, published by the DLC.


By Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton,
Sen. Tom Carper, and
Gov. Tom Vilsack
For 230 years, Americans have been united by a simple, common dream that tomorrow will be better than today. The promise of American life, handed on through a dozen generations, rests on this basic bargain: All of us should have the opportunity to live up to our God-given potential, and the responsibility to make the most of it.

In the 20th century, that basic bargain built the greatest middle class the world has ever known. The expansion of opportunity in return for hard work and sacrifice made us the richest, safest, strongest nation on earth, and enabled us to defeat fascism and communism. We ended the last century with America's economic might at its zenith, with Americans at their most optimistic, and with nearly all who endeavored to make the most of their opportunities and talents getting ahead in life.

US Has Failed Middle Class in Last Five Years

Over the last five years we've taken a different direction -- one that offered the greatest help to those with the most wealth, under the mistaken belief that when the wealthy do even better, the middle class will eventually get their share. But this economic philosophy has shortchanged America and failed the middle class, too.

For the first time ever, we've had four straight years of rising productivity and falling incomes. Americans are earning less, while the costs of a middle-class life have soared: In the past five years, college costs are up 50 percent, health care 73 percent, and gasoline more than 100 percent.

U.S. companies and workers face new challenges because they have to compete against companies and workers from other countries that have made education the top national priority, take energy efficiency seriously, and spend half as much on health care as we do.

These trends aren't just a burden for middle-class families. They undermine our way of life, because middle-class strength and growth have been the backbone of America.

Making the American Dream Once Again Strong & Alive

Together we can face that challenge. Throughout our history, America has responded to new challenges with a new faith in our basic bargain. The world has changed over the past 50 years, and the terms of our basic bargain must keep pace.

The chance for every American to get ahead, regardless of background, is the engine of America's economic growth and social progress. A growing economy and a growing middle class go hand in hand.

To remain strong in the world, the American Dream must be strong and alive here at home. And as we continue to navigate through these changing economic times, restoring the promise of the American Dream is the central economic issue of our time.

That's why the three of us have spent the past year developing the American Dream Initiative, an opportunity agenda for the middle class and all who aspire to join it. With the help of leading thinkers from across the Democratic Party, we developed a set of new ideas for the Democratic Leadership Council's National Conversation in Denver in July.

Our vision is straightforward and clear -- to leave our children a richer, safer, smarter, and stronger nation than the one we inherited.

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