Democrats in Congress made a commitment to our middle class to create jobs and rebuild our economy. And we are delivering.
As we move toward this fall’s election campaign, the contrast between the two parties could not be more clear: Congressional Republicans are on the side of Wall Street, special interests, Big Oil and insurance companies. They are threatening to return our country to an era of devastating job losses and growing deficits — to the Bush recession.
Meanwhile, Democrats are standing up for Main Street and our middle class. We are pursuing an agenda of opportunity for our families, growth for our small businesses and prosperity for generations to come. We are working on the side of progress for every American.
Right now, we are working with the Senate on tough Wall Street reform to bring common-sense rules and tough oversight to the financial industry, protecting jobs on Main Street from the excesses on Wall Street.
In January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, we faced the facts of a decade of extreme Bush administration and Congressional Republican policies: the deepest recession since the Great Depression, a financial crisis that cost us 8 million jobs, a record number of foreclosure notices in the mail and bank-owned signs in front of too many homes.
To reverse the ill effects of the Bush recession, we focused squarely on our top priorities: creating good-paying jobs for our workers, strengthening our middle class and revitalizing our economy.
Today, we saw 290,000 jobs created in April alone — compared with 779,000 jobs lost in the last month of the Bush administration. Our middle class paid the lowest tax bills in 60 years. And our gross domestic product swung from a decrease of 5.4 percent in the last quarter of the Bush administration to three consecutive quarters of growth today. We are on track to create more jobs this year than in eight years under the Bush administration.
In few places has the contrast between our priorities and those of Republicans been starker than in the fight to provide quality, affordable health insurance for all Americans. In making this dream a reality, we put our nation’s families and business owners in control of their own health care, not the insurance companies. In passing health insurance reform, we made history for our country and progress for the American people.
From the start, Democrats pushed for a bill based on three core principles: affordability for the middle class, access for millions more Americans and accountability for the insurance industry.
Because of this law, no one will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Families will have access to more affordable care, no longer forced to choose between buying groceries and seeing a doctor. Seniors will have access to more affordable prescription drugs, no longer worried about the sustainability of Medicare. The uninsured will get coverage, no longer left to the emergency room for medical care. Millions of Americans will be protected from the worst abuses of the insurance industry — and being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition.
Americans of all ages are already seeing the benefits of reform — and there’s more to come. Under pressure from Congress, the nation’s largest insurers acted even sooner than the law required to end the shameful practice of dropping people’s coverage when they get sick. Young people are now allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. For small businesses, tax credits to help cover the costs of premiums have taken effect; starting next month, the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will help employers compete by giving them the resources to cover retirees too young for Medicare and ensuring Americans have access to coverage at every age and stage of life.
In June, seniors set to fall into the “doughnut hole” will receive a one-time $250 rebate check to help them pay for prescription drugs. Starting next year, those in the coverage gap will get a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs. And by 2020, the doughnut hole will close completely.
By September of this year, parents will no longer face discrimination because their children have a pre-existing condition. All new private plans will include free preventive care. And a temporary high-risk pool will cover adults with pre-existing conditions.
When Congressional Republicans call for repeal, they are calling to maintain a status quo of skyrocketing costs, health care bankruptcies and coverage denied to those who need it most. Put simply: For Republicans, insurance company profits come first. For Democrats, nothing is more critical than the health and economic security of America’s families and small businesses.
From health care to clean energy to job creation, the Democratic Congress is moving our country forward and helping our middle class. And we will continue to rein in the special interests and build a health care system that keeps Americans healthy; an economy that ensures prosperity for the long term; and a nation that preserves and protects the interests of our families, businesses and all Americans.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a California Democrat.