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Commentary: Obama plan would save jobs, help middle class

  • Story Highlights
  • Jason Furman: President Clinton created new jobs and boosted incomes
  • Furman: Barack Obama's plan would cut taxes and health care costs
  • John McCain's plan would add $4 trillion to the budget deficit, Furman says
  • Furman: Obama would cut middle-income taxes and roll back cuts for high earners
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By Jason Furman
Special to CNN
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Editor's Note: Jason Furman is economic policy director for Barack Obama's campaign. A graduate of Harvard, Furman served as special assistant to the president for economic policy in the Clinton White House and as an economist at the World Bank. This is one of a series of commentary pieces on CNN.com from both McCain and Obama supporters attending party conventions. For a view from the McCain campaign, read here.

Former Clinton administration economist and Obama adviser Jason Furman says plan would foster growth.

(CNN) -- President Bill Clinton's appearance at the Democratic National Convention last night served as a reminder of the economy we can have with policies that balance fiscal responsibility with investments in our people.

Under President Clinton's leadership, the economy created 23 million new jobs and working-age households saw their incomes rise by $7,500. President Clinton's presence provided a stark contrast with the failures of President Bush's trickle-down economic philosophy -- a philosophy that John McCain has embraced and Barack Obama and Joe Biden utterly reject.

Instead of more of the same failed policies of recent years, Barack Obama and Joe Biden have an economic plan premised on fostering bottom-up growth. They would help get the economy moving again by relieving the burden on families with energy rebates of $1,000 and by saving more than 1 million jobs with $50 billion in immediate measures.

They would foster security and success for America's families by making sure every family has affordable health insurance, investing in America's energy independence while creating 5 million green jobs, cutting taxes for small businesses and 95 percent of workers and their families, and by ensuring that Americans have world-class education from pre-school through college.

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At the same time, Obama and Biden believe that any benefits of their plans for healthcare, energy, education or middle-class tax cuts could be undone if they were not paid for in a fiscally responsible manner that cuts overall spending.

That is why they will end the war in Iraq responsibly, a conflict that is costing more than $10 billion per month.

That is why they will take on the lobbyists that garner special favors for HMOs in Medicare, banks that make student loans, and high-income corporate farmers. And that is why they will ask families making over $250,000 to give up a portion of the tax cuts got from President Bush.

In contrast, McCain wants more of the same policies President Bush pursued. President Bush added $4 trillion to the deficit, John McCain's policies would another $4 trillion. See where McCain and Obama stand on economic issues

President Bush pursued tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations while cutting investments from Head Start for children to medical research. John McCain wants more tax cuts for corporations and his policies neglect investments in our people.

President Bush put the middle-class last when it came to his policies, John McCain would leave 101 million households out of his tax cut and eventually raise taxes for tens of millions of households by forcing them to pay taxes on their health insurance.

Under President Bush the economy has had the first so-called economic "expansion" on record where the typical family saw its income fall (by more than $2,000), and under John McCain the results could be even worse for jobs and incomes.

The economic challenges the country faces today are different and in some ways more challenging than what President Clinton inherited in 1992. The squeeze facing middle class families is more intense, with declining incomes meeting skyrocketing costs for everything from gas to groceries to healthcare.

While President Clinton, together with the hard work of then-first lady Hillary Clinton, made progress on health care with the passage of the Children's Health Insurance Program, today the rapidly rising cost of health care is a more serious threat to our families and our economy than ever before.

And the energy security and climate change challenges we face are nearly unprecedented in the danger they pose to America's national security, economy and even way of life.

But some important similarities remain. Just as in 1992 and 1993, the Republican attack machine is trying to spread fear that Barack Obama's economic plan will spell disaster. Phil Gramm, who helped design Sen. McCain's economic plan and who stepped down as the candidate's campaign co-chair after he called America a "nation of whiners," warned in 1993 that President Clinton's plan was a "one-way ticket to a recession."

Well, they were wrong then, and they are wrong now. A change in America's economic policies that cuts taxes, cuts health costs, and helps make America energy independent of Middle East oil, will foster both stronger growth and broader-based participation in that growth.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

All About National EconomyTaxesBarack ObamaJohn McCain

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