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Barack Obama column: Don't give up on change

9:27 AM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally in Aurora, Colorado, on November 4, 2012. Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are both showing signs of exhaustion as they dart from swing state to swing state, trying to fire up enthusiasm among supporters and win over any last wavering voters before November 6 election. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2008, we were mired in two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Together, we've fought our way back. Our businesses have created nearly five-and-a-half million new jobs in the past two-and-a-half years. Home values are rising. The American auto industry is thriving. The war in Iraq is over. Osama bin Laden is dead. Our heroes are coming home.

We've made real progress. But our work's not done. Our fight goes on. And on Tuesday, you get to choose between two fundamentally different visions of what makes America strong.

I believe that this nation cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class. For eight years, we had a president who shared this belief.

Bill Clinton asked the wealthiest to pay a little more so we could reduce our deficit and invest in job training and education, research and technology, better health care and a dignified retirement. And America created 23 million new jobs. Incomes rose. Poverty fell. Deficits became surpluses.

Proven solutions

Over the next eight years, we followed a different path. Tax cuts for the wealthy we couldn't afford. Encouraging companies to ship jobs and profits overseas. Fewer rules for big banks and insurers. The result of this top-down economics? Falling incomes, record deficits, stagnant job growth and an economic crisis we've been cleaning up for the past four years.

In this campaign, Governor Mitt Romney has used all his talents to repackage these very same policies that failed us so badly and sell them as "change."

But we know better. We know what change looks like. And we can't afford to give up on it now.

Change is a country where every American has the skills and education that good jobs require.

We took on banks that overcharged for student loans, and made college more affordable for millions. Now we'll recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so that good jobs don't end up in China, and we'll 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 proud I bet on the American auto industry. I refuse to cede the future of manufacturing to other countries. Now we need a tax code that stops rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas and starts rewarding companies that create jobs here.

The right change

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, bridges and schools.

Change is an America where we reduce our deficit by cutting where we can, and asking the wealthiest to contribute a little more. I've worked with Republicans to cut $1 trillion in spending, and I'll work with anyone of any party to move America forward. But I will never 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 middle class does. That's the change we need right now. Now's the time to keep pushing forward - to educate our kids, train our workers and create new jobs, new energy and new opportunity - to make sure that no matter who you are or how you started out, you can earn your American Dream.

That's the future within our reach. That's why I'm asking for your vote this Tuesday.

By Barack Obama

USA Today

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