The following is a transcript of a speech by New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer at the Democratic National Convention.
I stand here tonight as a proud son of the great state of New York! I'm also a proud product of the middle class. My father, Abe, was a small businessman. For 32 years, he ran an exterminating company. That may explain why our family always associated the smell of roach spray with love.
But dad's job brought stress. On Sunday nights, I'd lay in bed and hear him pacing the floor, restless about returning to work Monday morning. But what drove him were his big hopes for his kids' futures. He believed if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could pass a better life on to your children.
Today, families like the one I grew up in still believe in that American dream. But as President Obama says, it's a make-or-break moment for the middle class.
Mitt Romney's plans would make things worse. We've tried trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy and "anything goes" for big corporations. We tried it under a president who billed himself as a "compassionate conservative." It didn't work. Now we have Mitt Romney, calling himself a "severe conservative."
The last Republican president gave huge tax cuts to millionaires that exploded our deficits. Mitt Romney not only wants to make those tax cuts permanent, he wants to add more tax breaks for the wealthy that would make our deficit even bigger.
The last Republican president tried to privatize Social Security. The Romney-Ryan ticket says, "Why stop with Social Security when you can privatize Medicare, too?" The last Republican president gave us an ultra-conservative Supreme Court. Mitt Romney would move the Court even further right, putting landmark decisions like Roe v. Wade at risk. Some say Romney would repeat the past. I disagree—he'd be worse.
Take taxes. When Mitt Romney says he wants to reform the tax code, hold on to your wallets. We knowMitt Romney never met a tax haven he didn't like. But his new favorite tax haven is actually not the Cayman Islands—its Paul Ryan's budget. Under this plan, Mitt Romney's own taxes would drop to almost zero. But for the middle class, it's a rip-off. Families with children whose household income is less than$200,000 would see their taxes go up $2,000, on average. That's not trickle down. That's a dirty trick.
Mitt Romney's only bottom line is the one at the end of his own bank statement. The problem is that he confuses his own narrow, self-interest—and that of people like him—with the national interest. He thinks as long as we do right by the Mitt Romneys of the world, America will be just fine.
We can't afford a president with so narrow a perspective. We certainly want those at the top to do well, but if you base your entire presidency and your entire economic platform on helping them do even better, you're missing what makes the economy tick. Because not everyone has been as fortunate as Mitt Romney, you cannot base your whole approach on a life experience as rarified as his. If your focus is only on those like Mitt Romney, it's not going to help the economy or do enough for the middle class. There are many reasons why Mitt Romney should not become president, but perhaps the most important of all is the narrowness of his experience, perspective and vision.
Barack Obama has different priorities. He knows America does best when the middle class succeeds, not just those at the top. On foreign policy, President Obama has kept our nation safe from terrorism and restored our standing in the world. When it comes to one of our closest allies—Israel—President Obama has been resolute. The two biggest threats to Israel are the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons and the launching of Hezbollah rockets. No president in history has done more to confront these threats. This president has imposed the toughest sanctions ever on Iran, and provided record amounts of security aid toIsrael.
Republicans always try to paint Democrats as weak on defense. This time, they can't. After all, Mitt Romney's idea of an overseas accomplishment is sending U.S. jobs there.
Barack Obama knows that to create an economy built to last, we need to focus on middle-class families. Families who stay up on Sunday nights pacing the floor, like my dad did, while their children, tucked in bed, dream big dreams. Families who aren't sure what Monday morning will bring, but who believe our nation's best days are still ahead. President Obama hasn't stopped fighting for those families. Now we need to fight for him.
To those like Mitt Romney who want to take us backwards, let's send a strong message in November: as we say in Brooklyn, "Fuhgeddaboutit."