Democrats are taking America in a New Direction, working to defend our country, restore accountability to Washington, grow our economy, strengthen our families, and protect our planet.
The New Direction Congress has six clear priorities to help restore the American dream -- creating greater opportunity and a chance for prosperity for all Americans, not just the privileged few.
Fiscal responsibility is critical in every reform -- to reduce our deficit and balance our budget -- instead of passing the debt on to the next generation.
1. Provide the single largest investment in higher education since the GI Bill in 1944 -- at no new cost to taxpayers. The investment would be paid for by reducing excessive federal subsidies to the student loan industry.
- Making college more affordable for all Americans, reducing the cost on student loans and increasing the size of Pell Grant scholarships.
- Rewarding public service, with loan forgiveness for firefighters, police, nurses, early childhood educators, and more.
2. Better prepare children to succeed in a global economy.
Expanding and improving the successful Head Start early childhood education program--incorporating the latest and best science on brain development.
Expanding the number of highly qualified science, math, engineering, and technology teachers in our schools and overhauling No Child Left Behind to keep every school advancing in performance.
3. Protect health coverage for six million children--and help enroll five million more who are eligible. Replacing expensive emergency room care with health care coverage is cost-effective for families and taxpayers, and helps ensure children succeed.
4. Give millions of Americans a pay raise, with the first increase in the federal minimum wage in a decade. The longest increase gap in the history of the law left millions of families behind--with their paycheck's spending power reaching its lowest effective level in nearly half a century. The new law took effect July 24th.
5. Grow our economy with investments in innovation, new American 'green' jobs, reduced energy costs, and 21st Century Farm Bill reforms.
- Spurring private sector innovation, including in small businesses across America.
- Training new workers for 'green' jobs in the clean energy sector.
- Setting landmark energy efficiency standards to reduce home, business and industry energy costs by up to $600 billion through 2030, and create incentives for clean, renewable energy technologies.
- Reforming farm subsidies to go to working family farmers, conservation, additional crops (fruits and vegetables), and biofuels to make rural America part of an energy revolution.
6. Provide tax relief for middle and low-income Americans and small businesses.
- Extending protection for 20 million middle-income families about to be hit by AMT, the Alternative Minimum Tax, originally put in place to prevent the wealthy from avoiding taxes.
- Cutting taxes for small businesses to help them invest in new equipment and hire new workers.
- Extending middle-income tax relief beyond the 2010 expiration in a fiscally responsible way, including extending marriage penalty relief, the child tax credit, and the 10 percent bracket.