Steamboat Springs In 2008, I took a semester off college in order to work as the Northwest Colorado Field Organizer for Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change. I was proud and humbled then to work with the enthusiastic and dedicated Routt County citizens who put in hours of time and effort for that campaign. I am proud now of the progress that President Obama and his team have made. True, we did not get out of the worst recession since the Great Depression as fast as we wanted and millions of families still are struggling, but we are moving forward in the right direction.
There have been nine consecutive months of private sector job growth. More than 3 million jobs were created or saved as a direct result of the stimulus — many of which were jobs crucial to communities: teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers.
We elected Obama and a Democratic majority in 2008 because we wanted officials who would move our country forward economically — and they did. We wanted health care reform — and we got it.
Republicans are using that reform as a major selling point in this campaign. They say Americans do not want it and we cannot afford it. This is simply not true.
The health care reform bill actually will reduce the deficit by $110 billion dollars in the first ten years and by another astounding $1.2 trillion during the second decade. It is a fiscally responsible bill. That is not even to mention the 5.6 million Americans who no longer will be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions and the 6.7 million small businesses that now are eligible for health care tax credits.
Despite these major successes, the Republican campaigns this fall have attacked them as unbelievable overreaches by the federal government. This is just blatant hypocrisy.
The stimulus bill cut taxes for 95 percent of American families. It actually consisted of more tax cuts than anything else. Who knew that Republicans were against tax cuts? The health care reform bill is going to reduce the federal deficit by more than a trillion dollars. Who knew that Republicans were against reducing the deficit?
This election will have far-reaching consequences for our nation — not just for the remaining years of Obama’s first term, but also for many years to come. We worked so hard in 2008 because we knew that our country needed a new direction. Do we really want to go back to where we were two years ago so quickly? To put a screeching halt to this progress is a dire mistake.
The 112th Congress that will commence in January has a serious chance of being controlled by Republicans. Should this happen, political paralysis is assured.
If Republicans are serious about their desire to vote on repealing health care reform, abolish federal agencies and deregulate Wall Street, we should fear a completely futile government. Those efforts would serve only the political needs of the Republican Party because none of them have any prospect of passing. They only will distract from the serious work that needs to get done. Given their “Hell No” agenda, do not be surprised if the Republicans force our government to shut down.
The choice could not be more vivid this year. We must not let ourselves fall prey to the drumbeat of negativity and hypocrisy that would drag us backward. We have the opportunity to forge ahead with the progress that we already are seeing. Our new economic policies are working; conservative and liberal economists acknowledge that the dire economy we inherited in January 2009 would be markedly worse without the Recovery Act. Health care reform is covering more people, and it is fiscally responsible. We have a great start in economic recovery, job creation, renewable energy production and education reform.
On Tuesday, Routt County and America face a clear decision.
With your vote, you have the power to choose between the same backward and irresponsible policies that a Republican victory will ensure, or you can chose to make sure we continue to stride toward a better tomorrow.
Roberts was Barack Obama’s field organizer for Northwest Colorado during the 2008 presidential campaign. He is a senior at Boston College pursuing a degree in political science and environmental studies.