President Barack Obama: My vision for America

President Barack Obama: My vision for America



For the past few days, all of us have been properly focused on one of the worst storms of our lifetimes. We mourn those who were lost. And we pledge to stand with those whose lives have been turned upside down for as long as it takes them to recover and rebuild.

Because when hardship hits, America is at its best. The petty differences that consume us in normal times quickly melt away. There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm -- only fellow Americans. That's how we get through the most trying times: together.

Four years ago, we were mired in two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Together, we've battled our way back. The war in Iraq is over, Osama bin Laden is dead, and our heroes are coming home. Our businesses have created more than 5 million new jobs in the last two and half years. Home values and 401(k)s are rising. We are less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 20 years. And the American auto industry is back.

We're not there yet. But we've made real progress. And on Tuesday, America will get to choose between two fundamentally different visions of what makes America strong.

I believe America's prosperity was built on the strength of our middle class. We don't succeed when a few at the top do well while everyone else struggles to get by -- we're better off when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.

When Bill Clinton was president, he believed that if America invested in the skills and ideas of its people, good jobs and businesses would follow. His economic plan asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more so we could reduce our deficit and still invest in job training and education, research and technology, better health care and a dignified retirement. And what happened? By the end of his second term, our economy created 23 million new jobs. Incomes rose. Poverty fell. Deficits became the biggest surplus in history.

The path Governor Romney offers is the one we tried for eight years after President Clinton left office -- a philosophy that says those at the very top get to play by a very different set of rules than everyone else. Bigger tax cuts for the wealthy that we can't afford. Encouraging companies to ship jobs and profits overseas. Fewer rules for big banks and insurance companies. They're the policies that caused this mess in the first place.

In the closing weeks of this campaign, Governor Romney has started calling himself an agent of change. And I'll give him one thing -- offering another $5 trillion tax cut weighted towards the wealthy, $2 trillion in defense spending our military didn't ask for, and more power for big banks and insurance companies is change, all right. But it's not the change we need.

We know what real change looks like. And we can't give up on it now.

Change is an America where people of every age have the skills and education that good jobs require. We took on banks that had been overcharging for student loans for decades, and made college more affordable for millions. Now we'll recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so that high-tech, high-wage jobs don't end up in China, and train 2 million workers at community colleges for the skills local businesses need right now.

Change is an America that's home to the next generation of manufacturing and innovation. I'm not the candidate who said we should "let Detroit go bankrupt," I'm the president who bet on American workers and American ingenuity. Now I want a tax code that stops rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas, and starts rewarding companies that create jobs here; one that stops subsidizing oil company profits, and keeps supporting clean energy jobs and technology that will cut our oil imports in half.

Change is an America that turns the page on a decade of war to do some nation-building here at home. So long as I'm commander-in-chief, we'll pursue our enemies with the strongest military in the world. But it's time to use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down our debt and rebuild America -- our roads and bridges and schools.

Change is an America where we reduce our deficit by cutting spending where we can, and asking the wealthiest Americans to go back to the income tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was president. I've worked with Republicans to cut a trillion dollars of spending, and I'll do more. I'll work with anyone of any party to move this country forward. But I won't agree to eliminate health insurance for millions of poor, elderly, or disabled on Medicaid, or turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire's tax cut.

The folks at the very top don't need another champion in Washington. The people who need a champion in Washington are the Americans whose letters I read at night; the men and women I meet on the trail every day. The cooks and cleaning staff working overtime at a Las Vegas hotel. The furniture worker retraining for a career in biotechnology at age 55. The teacher who's forced to spend less time with each student in her crowded classroom. Her kids, who dream of becoming something great. Every small business owner trying to expand and do right by his or her employees -- all of these Americans need a champion in Washington.

When these Americans do well, America does well. That's the change we need right now. It's time to finish what we've started -- to educate our kids, train our workers, create new jobs, new energy, and new opportunity -- to make sure that no matter who you are, where you come from, or how you started out, this is the country where you can make it if you try.

The America we believe in is within our reach. The future we hope for is within our sights. That's why I'm asking for your vote this Tuesday.




Mitt Romney: My vision for America



On June 2, 2011, I began my quest for the presidency on the farm of Doug and Stella Scamman in Stratham, New Hampshire. I said then that our country is a land of freedom and opportunity. I spoke of the hard work of the millions of Americans who built our remarkable experiment in self-government. They carved out of the wilderness a land of immense prosperity and unlimited potential. I said then that "I believe in America." For more than a year now, I've carried that message across America. As we draw close to Election Day, it is a good moment to reflect on what it means to believe in America.

America is a place where freedom rings. It is a place where we can discuss our differences without fear of any consequence worse than criticism, where we can believe in whatever creed or religion we choose, where we can pursue our dreams no matter how small or grand. It is a place that not only cherishes freedom, but is willing to fight to defend it. These are the qualities that define us.

America is a land of opportunity. But lately, for too many Americans, opportunity has not exactly come knocking. We've been mired in an economic slowdown that has left millions of our fellow citizens unemployed. The consequences in dreams shattered, lives disrupted, plans deferred, and hopes dimmed can be found all around us.

It hasn't always been this way. It certainly doesn't have to be this way in the future. We're all in this together. And together we can emerge from these troubles.

Together with Paul Ryan, I've put forward an economic recovery plan consisting of five central elements that will in four years create 12 million jobs.

We will produce more of the energy we need to heat our homes, fill our cars, and make our economy grow. We will stop President Obama's war on coal, his disdain for oil, and his effort to crimp natural gas by federal regulation of the very technology that produces it. We will support nuclear and renewables, but phase out subsidies once an industry is on its feet. We will invest in energy science and research to make discoveries that can actually change our energy world. By 2020, we will achieve North American energy independence.

We will retrain our work force for the jobs of tomorrow and ensure that every child receives a quality education no matter where they live, including especially our inner cities. Parents and students, not administrators and unions, need to have greater choice. Our current worker retraining system is a labyrinth of federal programs that sprawls across 47 programs and nine agencies. We will eliminate this redundancy and empower the 50 states and the private sector to develop effective programs of their own.

We will make trade work for America. We'll open more markets to American agriculture, products, and services. And we will finally hold accountable any nation that doesn't play by the rules. I will stand up for the rights and interests of American workers and employers.

Your turn: What's your vision for America? We will restore fiscal sanity to Washington by bringing an end to the federal spending and borrowing binge that in just four years has added more debt held by the public than almost all previous administrations combined. We will put America on track to a balanced budget by eliminating unnecessary programs, by sending programs back to states where they can be managed with less abuse and less cost, and by shrinking the bureaucracy of Washington.

· Finally, we will champion small business, the great engine of job creation in our country, by reforming the tax code and updating and reshaping regulations that have suffocated economic growth.

Nothing is ever easy in Washington, but these goals are rooted in bipartisan agreement, and I will work with members of both parties to accomplish them. As governor of a state that was overwhelmingly Democratic, I was always ready to reach across the aisle and I can proudly point to the results. I've learned that when we come together to solve problems in a practical spirit, we can accomplish miracles. In this respect, I am offering a contrast to what we are seeing in Washington today. We've watched as one party has pushed through its agenda without compromising with the other party. We've watched gridlock and petty conflict dominate while the most important issues confronting the nation, like chronic high unemployment, go unaddressed. The bickering has to end. I will end it. I will reach across the aisle to solve America's problems.

Our economic crisis not only threatens the well-being of our citizenry, it has larger consequences in other realms. The economic weakness of the past several years has, alarmingly, fostered weakness in our foreign policy posture. Runaway domestic spending has led the president to propose reducing defense spending by hundreds of billions, cuts that his own secretary of defense has said would "devastate" our national security.

The most important task for any president is set out in the preamble to our Constitution—providing for the common defense. As commander-in-chief, I will roll back the president's deep and arbitrary cuts to our military. Our soldiers should never lack the tools they need to complete their mission and come home safely. I have always believed that the first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war. And preventing war is a supreme national interest. I will ensure that our military is strong enough that no adversary dares to challenge us.

Let us remember our history. We have accomplished so much, both in the world and at home. We've defeated tyrannies. We've lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. We've transformed our own society into a more perfect union. We've created a land of freedom and prosperity. The problems we need to overcome now are not bigger than we are. We can defeat them. I am offering real change and a real choice.

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