There is no more fundamental American right than the right to vote. Before the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, barriers such as literacy tests, poll taxes and property requirements disenfranchised many Americans, especially minorities. More than 40 years later, there are still numerous obstacles to ensuring that every citizen has the ability to vote.
As president, Barack Obama will implement a 21st century economic agenda to help ensure that America can compete in a global economy, and ensure the middle class is thriving and growing. He will increase investments in infrastructure, energy independence, education, and research and development; modernize and simplify our tax code so it provides greater opportunity and relief to more Americans; and implement trade policies that benefit American workers and increase the export of American goods.
"We must build a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination .... policies must be developed, attitudes must be shaped, and buildings and organizations must be designed to ensure that everyone has a chance to get the education they need and live independently as full citizens in their communities."
Throughout America''s history, education has been the vehicle for social and economic mobility, giving hope and opportunity to millions of young people. Our schools must prepare students not only to meet the demands of the global economy, but also help students take their place as committed and engaged citizens. It must ensure that all students have a quality education regardless of race, class, or background. Barack Obama is committed to strengthening our public schools to maximize our country''s greatest natural resource - the American people. Obama believes that we must equip poor and struggling districts, both rural and urban, with the support and resources they need to provide disadvantaged students with an opportunity to reach their full potential. Too often, our leaders present this issue as an either - or debate, divided between giving our schools more funding, or demanding more accountability. Obama believes that we have to do both, and has offered innovative ideas to break through the political stalemate in Washington.
Energy & Environment
Senator Obama has been a leader in the Senate in pushing for a comprehensive national energy policy and has introduced a number of bills to get us closer to the goal of energy independence. By putting aside partisan battles, he has found common ground on CAFE, renewable fuels, and clean coal.
Throughout his political career, Barack Obama has been a leader in fighting for open and honest government. As a U.S. Senator, he has spearheaded the effort to clean up Washington in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. In a politically charged election year, Obama acknowledged that corruption was a problem that plagued both political parties. He subsequently enlisted the help of Republican allies to limit lobbyist influence, shine sunlight into the earmarks process and promote open government.
In June of 2006, Senator Obama delivered what was called the most important speech on religion and politics in 40 years. Speaking before an evangelical audience, Senator Obama candidly discussed his own religious conversion and doubts, and the need for a deeper, more substantive discussion about the role of faith in American life.
Strong families raise successful children and keep communities together. While Senator Obama does not believe that we can simply legislate healthy families, good parenting skills or economic success, he does believe we can eliminate roadblocks that parents face and provide tools to help them succeed. A husband and father of two, Senator Obama has promoted strong families in the Senate.
"The cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and states of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on ... If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we''d see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies." - Barack Obama, Speech in the U.S. Senate, March 13, 2006
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Obama has fought to strengthen America''s position in the world. Reaching across the aisle, Obama has tackled problems such as preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and stopping the genocide in Darfur.
"I...believe that every American has the right to affordable health care. I believe that the millions of Americans who can''t take their children to a doctor when they get sick have that right...We now face an opportunity - and an obligation - to turn the page on the failed politics of yesterday''s health care debates. It''s time to bring together businesses, the medical community, and members of both parties around a comprehensive solution to this crisis, and it''s time to let the drug and insurance industries know that while they''ll get a seat at the table, they don''t get to buy every chair." -Barack Obama, Speech in Iowa City, IA, 5/27/07
Five years after 9/11, our country is still unprepared for a terrorist attack. From improving security for our transit systems and chemical plants, to increasing cargo screening in our airports and seaports, the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been underfunded and ignored. The 9/11 Commission gave the government five F''s and 12 D''s on the implementation of its recommendations. Senator Obama is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and has supported efforts to base homeland security spending on risk rather than pork-barrel politics. He has also introduced legislation to strengthen chemical plant and drinking water security and to enhance disaster preparedness.
Barack Obama has played a leading role in crafting comprehensive immigration reform. Obama believes the immigration issue has been exploited by politicians to divide the nation rather than find real solutions. This divisiveness has allowed the illegal immigration problem to worsen, with borders that are less secure than ever and an economy that depends on millions of workers living in the shadows.
Before the war in Iraq ever started, Senator Obama said that it was wrong in its conception. In 2002, then Illinois State Senator Obama said Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the United States and that invasion would lead to an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. Since then, Senator Obama has laid out a plan on the way forward in Iraq that has largely been affirmed by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton.
There are 37 million poor Americans. Most poor Americans are in the workforce, yet still cannot afford to make ends meet. And too many poor Americans are single mothers who are raising children. Barack Obama has been a lifelong advocate for the poor -- as a young college graduate, he rejected the high salaries of corporate America and moved to the South Side of Chicago to work as a community organizer. As an organizer, Obama worked with churches, Chicago residents and local government to set up job training programs for the unemployed and after school programs for kids.
"We are at that critical and urgent moment. If Washington continues policies that work against America''s family farmers, our rural communities will fall further behind - and so will America. But if we reject the politics that has shut ordinary folks out, we can create a new story for rural America ... The dreams of rural Americans are familiar to all Americans - to make a good living, to raise a healthy and secure family, and to leave our children a future of opportunity. It''s time for real leadership for rural America to extend that American dream. That''s the dream of opportunity that I''ve spent my life fighting for. And that''s what our rural agenda will do." - Barack Obama, Speech in Fairfax, IA, October 16, 2007
"Your own story and the American story are not separate - they are shared. And they will both be enriched if we stand up together, and answer a new call to service to meet the challenges of our new century ... I won''t just ask for your vote as a candidate; I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States. This will not be a call issued in one speech or program; this will be a cause of my presidency." - Barack Obama, Speech in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, December 5, 2007
Seniors & Social Security
Americans turning 65 this year have grown our economy by 4.5 times over the course of their working lives. They have tilled our soil, defended our country, taught our children, worked in our factories, and raised a new generation to build upon their successes. And yet, many struggle to get by. Threats to Social Security and Medicare, skyrocketing health costs, and abuse and neglect of seniors all jeopardize our unspoken covenant: our seniors worked hard to take care of us, and now we must be here for them.
"Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let''s set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let''s recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let''s make college more affordable, and let''s invest in scientific research, and let''s lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America."
As a member of the Senate Veterans'' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama is committed to helping the heroes who defend our nation today and the veterans who fought in years past. A grandson of a World War II veteran who went to college on the G.I. Bill, Senator Obama has reached out to Republicans and Democrats in order to honor our commitment to America''s veterans.
CONTINUE READING ALL THE ISSUES IN Barack Obama''s Plan for America
Download the Acrobat Reader file from his website.