Presidential Campaign Websites

Dick Gephardt 2004 Web Site - May 5, 2003

Dick Gephardt 2004 Web Site - May 5, 2003  
Press Release

February 19, 2003


Gephardt Formally Announces Presidential Candidacy

Outlines Ambitious Proposals to
Lift Economy, Build Prosperity

"We can build an America where we grow together, instead of being pulled apart, where our economy's strong because all our families are secure, where nobody's left out or left behind." — Dick Gephardt

Washington — Dick Gephardt today announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States at the Mason Elementary School where Gephardt was educated and raised. An Executive Summary of the speech follows. The full text of the speech is also available.

"My dad was a milk truck driver, a proud member of the Teamsters," Gephardt said. "My mother was a secretary. Neither of my parents finished high school. They didn't have much money. But they saved what they could — five, ten dollars a week — so I could get an education and live out my dreams. I want to dedicate this day to my mother Loreen and my late father, Lou Gephardt. This campaign is for them — and for all who seek and strive to do right by their kids. They're the true American heroes; they're the people I'm fighting for.

An economic crossroads

"Ten years ago, America was at another economic crossroads. We were losing jobs. Incomes were falling. Our nation was choked with the highest deficits in history, $290 billion, enough red ink to drown the Washington Monument. As House Majority Leader, I led the fight to pass the Clinton-Gore economic plan — to slash the deficit, invest in education, cut taxes for working families, and ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. Not a single Republican voted for that plan; they said it was a job-killer. Instead, it led to the single longest economic expansion in history. The highest home ownership ever. The lowest inflation in a generation. Over 22 million new jobs. Turns out we were right, and the other side was wrong.

"Yet President Bush has taken us right back to the broken policies of the past, the economics of debt and regret: unaffordable tax cuts for the few. Zero new jobs. Surging unemployment. I've got to hand it to him: never has so much been done, in so little time, to help so few.

"That's the Bush record — a nation with zero job creation, racked with debt, unprepared for the economy of the future. A nation that's growing apart, when we should be growing together.

A contest of ideas

"A Presidential campaign is a contest for votes. But it's also a contest of ideas. Some politicians will say, give me your support now and I'll figure out the issues later. Well I'm in this to fight for your jobs, not merely to win one for myself. Every proposal I am making — every idea I'm advancing — has a single, central purpose: to revive a failing economy, and give working Americans the help and the security they need to make the most of it, on their own.

An unshakeable commitment to keep our defenses strong

"As President, I'll start with an unshakeable commitment to keep our defenses strong. We're in a new world, with manifold new dangers — from global terror, to the recklessness of rogue dictators like Saddam Hussein, to international crime and drug-running that rips at the very fabric of freedom. In the face of new dangers, we need a familiar resolve. I will make sure our armed forces remain the best-equipped, best-trained, best-led fighting force in the entire world.

"I stand with this administration's efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein. And I'm proud that I wrote the resolution that helped lead the President to make his case at the United Nations. For all our military might, there are too many threats to our security, too many global challenges for America to simply go it alone. We need the friendship and cooperation of our time-honored allies. We must lead the world, instead of merely bullying it.

Ensure the security of our homeland

"We must do more to ensure the security of our homeland where it matters most – in the places where you live and work. As President, I'll give local police and fire departments, the first responders, unprecedented tools and training, so they can be the front line in the war against terror. I'll create a brand new Homeland Security Trust Fund, so states and local communities have all the resources they need to keep your families safe and secure.

Scrap the vast majority of the Bush tax cuts

"My economic plan begins at the beginning. We have to scrap the vast majority of the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans and corporations. And I'll tell you why: they're unaffordable, unsustainable, and patently unfair. Mind you, I'm all for helping wealthy Americans grow our economy. But doling out tax cuts they don't want or need is not the way to do it. Without the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, we can do more to promote innovation, the engine of growth in this ideas economy.

Health care: A moral imperative

"Without the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, we can finish the unfinished business of providing high-quality health coverage to everyone who works in America, saving billions, and stimulating one of the biggest sectors of our private economy. To me, this is a moral imperative.

"Three decades ago, when I was an attorney here in St. Louis, my two-year-old son Matt was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors told Jane and me he probably wouldn't make it. My law firm had a health plan, and I'd never thought much about it before then. But Matt's only chance of pulling through depended on new and experimental therapies — the kind we couldn't have afforded on our own. That insurance plan, great doctors and nurses, and the grace of God saved Matt's life. But I'll never forget the nights we spent at Matt's bedside, talking to the parents of his roommate — a child with severe cancer, and a family that couldn't afford health insurance. They were terrified — not just of their child's illness, but that they wouldn't be able to afford his treatment. They begged and borrowed to give him decent care, and never, as long as I live, will I forget the terror in their eyes. In the most powerful country in the world, it shouldn't be this way.

"That doesn't mean we can rest on the same government solutions. I plan to do it with no bureaucracy and no nationalized plan — by harnessing what's best about private health insurance, and helping Americans afford it. My plan asks every employer to provide quality coverage, then gives tax credits to cover most of the cost. It's that simple, and we'll save billions by catching illness before it shows up at the emergency room — where we all pay even more.

A single pension plan

"My mother changed jobs so many times that after a lifetime of hard work, she was left with one pension from just one employer — $42 a month, not even enough to pay utility bills. Today, there are so many conflicting pension plans; you have to be an accountant just to figure them out. As President, I'll create a single pension plan that follows you from the moment you're born to the moment you retire. That simple change will strengthen our workforce beyond measure. You'll get every penny of your retirement savings, no matter how often you change jobs.

Remake our public school system

"It's long past time to remake our public school system — raising standards for students, teachers, and schools; getting more discipline, more character education, more parental involvement in our classrooms.

"As the children of the Baby Boomers surge through our school system, we must recruit a whole new generation for careers in teaching, and we must raise the quality of our teachers at the same time. It won't be easy. But we can do it by treating and paying teachers like the professionals they are. My daughter Kate dreamed for years of becoming a teacher. But she told me when she mentioned the idea to her college classmates, they laughed at her.. She followed her dream, and she's working as a teacher — but she's living at home with Jane and me, because she started at $17,000 a year. Now she knows why her friends were laughing. Just imagine all the Kates we're losing, bright young people hungering to teach, yearning to give back, but so burdened with college loans they can't afford it.

"As President, I'll lift up the teaching profession, and create a brand new Teacher Corps, modeled on the ROTC, to recruit two-and-a-half million well-trained teachers by the end of the decade. If you agree to teach for five years — and to be held to a high standard of excellence — we'll help pay your way through college. Just as it's essential to recruit the best soldiers, to ensure freedom's future, it's essential to recruit the best teachers, to ensure our children's future.

"We ought to listen to educators who tell us a child's success in life is determined in the first years, that the right start in school can mean better grades, even higher income later on. As President, I'll fight for the opportunity for pre-school — for every child, in every community in this nation.

"And we have to give kids a safe, educational place to go between the hours when school’s out, but parents are still at work — the hours when most juvenile crime takes place, when most teenage pregnancy occurs. I propose a major expansion of after-school care across the country to reduce crime and help working parents protect their own kids.

Raise wages and standards, so everyone does better

"I believe in free trade; open markets create good jobs for our people. But I've been to China, to Thailand and Indonesia — places where the most sophisticated, high-tech labor is now done for a few dollars a day. We have to raise wages and standards, so everyone does better. If we don't, it'll be a race to the bottom, where wages plummet and living standards fall through the floor.

"As President, I'll press the World Trade Organization to establish an international minimum wage — different for each country, but always high enough so we don't compete with slave, sweatshop, and child labor around the world. This isn't some form of global charity. It's right for our families, and it will create millions of new global consumers for our products.

"And we should lead the way by making our own minimum wage a living wage, so work always pays more than welfare. Let's raise the minimum wage for hard-working Americans.

Energy independence within ten years

"Finally, we cannot revive our economy — we cannot defeat terror in the Middle East — as long as we look to that dangerous region for a quarter of our daily oil supply. I've got news for the President, the Vice President, and the oil companies they used to run: there is no path to oil self-sufficiency. We can't drill our way there, no matter how many public lands we despoil.

"As President, I'll launch an aggressive new Apollo Project — to work with industry to achieve true energy independence within ten years. We'll make energy-efficient products cheaper and more widely available by giving businesses tax cuts to make them, and by giving families tax cuts to buy them. If we don't do this now — if we don't appeal to common sense, and our common cause as Americans — we'll be at the mercy of the terrorists and the oil barons for the rest of our lives.

We’re all bound together

"We’re all bound together. If a child doesn't have health insurance, we all pay the price when she shows up at the emergency room. If a child drops out of school and joins a gang, or goes on welfare — we all pay the price of violence, dependence, and indigence. If a family can't afford to put a child through college, we all pay the price of sinking productivity, of shattered human potential.

"I thank God for the love of my parents, the strength of this community, the values and discipline I learned here at Mason Elementary School. I thank God for my mother's savings, the church scholarship, and the government loans that were the only way this Teamster's son could go to college. I want every child to have the chances I had, to go as far as their dreams and hard work can carry them.

"The fight for working families is in my bones. It's where I come from; it's been my life's work. With your help, we can take that fight to the most powerful office in the history of humankind. We can build an America where we grow together, instead of being pulled apart — where our economy's strong, because all our families are secure — where nobody's left out or left behind."

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