Bernie Sanders Speech to the Vatican and Hillary Clinton’s Speech to National Action Network
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Bernie Sanders Speech to the Vatican April 16
I am honored to be with you today and was pleased to receive your
invitation to speak to this conference of The Pontifical Academy of
Social Sciences. Today we celebrate the encyclical Centesimus Annus
and reflect on its meaning for our world a quarter-century after it
was presented by Pope John Paul II. With the fall of Communism, Pope
John Paul II gave a clarion call for human freedom in its truest
sense: freedom that defends the dignity of every person and that is
always oriented towards the common good.
The Church’s social teachings, stretching back to the first modern
encyclical about the industrial economy, Rerum Novarum in 1891, to
Centesimus Annus, to Pope Francis’s inspiring encyclical Laudato Si’
this past year, have grappled with the challenges of the market
economy. There are few places in modern thought that rival the depth
and insight of the Church’s moral teachings on the market economy.
Over a century ago, Pope Leo XIII highlighted economic issues and
challenges in Rerum Novarum that continue to haunt us today, such as
what he called “the enormous wealth of a few as opposed to the poverty
of the many.”
And let us be clear. That situation is worse today. In the year 2016,
the top one percent of the people on this planet own more wealth than
the bottom 99 percent, while the wealthiest 60 people – 60 people –
own more than the bottom half – 3 1/2 billion people. At a time when
so few have so much, and so many have so little, we must reject the
foundations of this contemporary economy as immoral and unsustainable.
The words of Centesimus Annus likewise resonate with us today. One
Furthermore, society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate
for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain
amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve
workers’ training and capability so that their work will be more
skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate
legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation,
especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of
immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade
unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is
decisive in this area. (Para15)
The essential wisdom of Centesimus Annus is this: A market economy is
beneficial for productivity and economic freedom. But if we let the
quest for profits dominate society; if workers become disposable cogs
of the financial system; if vast inequalities of power and wealth lead
to marginalization of the poor and the powerless; then the common good
is squandered and the market economy fails us. Pope John Paul II puts
it this way: profit that is the result of “illicit exploitation,
speculation, or the breaking of solidarity among working people . . .
has not justification, and represents an abuse in the sight of God and
We are now twenty-five years after the fall of Communist rule in
Eastern Europe. Yet we have to acknowledge that Pope John Paul’s
warnings about the excesses of untrammeled finance were deeply
prescient. Twenty-five years after Centesimus Annus, speculation,
illicit financial flows, environmental destruction, and the weakening
of the rights of workers is far more severe than it was a quarter
century ago. Financial excesses, indeed widespread financial
criminality on Wall Street, played a direct role in causing the
world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
We need a political analysis as well as a moral and anthropological
analysis to understand what has happened since 1991. We can say that
with unregulated globalization, a world market economy built on
speculative finance burst through the legal, political, and moral
constraints that had once served to protect the common good. In my
country, home of the world’s largest financial markets, globalization
was used as a pretext to deregulate the banks, ending decades of legal
protections for working people and small businesses. Politicians
joined hands with the leading bankers to allow the banks to become
“too big to fail.” The result: eight years ago the American economy
and much of the world was plunged into the worst economic decline
since the 1930s. Working people lost their jobs, their homes and their
savings, while the government bailed out the banks.
Inexplicably, the United States political system doubled down on this
reckless financial deregulation, when the U.S. Supreme Court in a
series of deeply misguided decisions, unleashed an unprecedented flow
of money into American politics. These decisions culminated in the
infamous Citizen United case, which opened the financial spigots for
huge campaign donations by billionaires and large corporations to turn
the U.S. political system to their narrow and greedy advantage. It has
established a system in which billionaires can buy elections. Rather
than an economy aimed at the common good, we have been left with an
economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as
the working class, the young and the poor fall further and further
behind. And the billionaires and banks have reaped the returns of
their campaign investments, in the form of special tax privileges,
imbalanced trade agreements that favor investors over workers, and
that even give multinational companies extra-judicial power over
governments that are trying to regulate them.
But as both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have warned us and the
world, the consequences have been even direr than the disastrous
effects of financial bubbles and falling living standards of
working-class families. Our very soul as a nation has suffered as the
public lost faith in political and social institutions. As Pope
Francis has stated: “Man is not in charge today, money is in charge,
money rules.” And the Pope has also stated: “We have created new
idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and
heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an
economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”
And further: “While the income of a minority is increasing
exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance
results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets
and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to
States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common
Pope Francis has called on the world to say: “No to a financial system
that rules rather than serves” in Evangeli Gaudium. And he called upon
financial executives and political leaders to pursue financial reform
that is informed by ethical considerations. He stated plainly and
powerfully that the role of wealth and resources in a moral economy
must be that of servant, not master.
The widening gaps between the rich and poor, the desperation of the
marginalized, the power of corporations over politics, is not a
phenomenon of the United States alone. The excesses of the unregulated
global economy have caused even more damage in the developing
countries. They suffer not only from the boom-bust cycles on Wall
Street, but from a world economy that puts profits over pollution, oil
companies over climate safety, and arms trade over peace. And as an
increasing share of new wealth and income goes to a small fraction of
those at the top, fixing this gross inequality has become a central
challenge. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great
economic issue of our time, the great political issue of our time, and
the great moral issue of our time. It is an issue that we must
confront in my nation and across the world.
Pope Francis has given the most powerful name to the predicament of
modern society: the Globalization of Indifference. “Almost without
being aware of it,” he noted, “we end up being incapable of feeling
compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain,
and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone
else’s responsibility and not our own.” We have seen on Wall Street
that financial fraud became not only the norm but in many ways the new
business model. Top bankers have shown no shame for their bad behavior
and have made no apologies to the public. The billions and billions of
dollars of fines they have paid for financial fraud are just another
cost of doing business, another short cut to unjust profits.
Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut,
that once the market economy escaped the boundaries of morality it
would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of
morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the
rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that
we should be “practical,” that we should accept the status quo; that a
truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is
surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to
despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again
to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better
world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for
our common home.
I see that hope and sense of possibility every day among America’s
young people. Our youth are no longer satisfied with corrupt and
broken politics and an economy of stark inequality and injustice. They
are not satisfied with the destruction of our environment by a fossil
fuel industry whose greed has put short term profits ahead of climate
change and the future of our planet. They want to live in harmony with
nature, not destroy it. They are calling out for a return to fairness;
for an economy that defends the common good by ensuring that every
person, rich or poor, has access to quality health care, nutrition and
As Pope Francis made powerfully clear last year in Laudato Si’, we
have the technology and know-how to solve our problems – from poverty
to climate change to health care to protection of biodiversity. We
also have the vast wealth to do so, especially if the rich pay their
way in fair taxes rather than hiding their funds in the world’s tax
and secrecy havens- as the Panama Papers have shown.
The challenges facing our planet are not mainly technological or even
financial, because as a world we are rich enough to increase our
investments in skills, infrastructure, and technological know-how to
meet our needs and to protect the planet. Our challenge is mostly a
moral one, to redirect our efforts and vision to the common good.
Centesimus Annus, which we celebrate and reflect on today, and Laudato
Si’, are powerful, eloquent and hopeful messages of this possibility.
It is up to us to learn from them, and to move boldly toward the
common good in our time.
Hillary Clinton’s speech to
Hillary Clinton Delivers Remarks at National Action Network
This afternoon, Hillary Clinton delivered remarks at the National Action Network’s 25th Anniversary National Convention. At the event, Clinton discussed how she will fight to break down the barriers that hold Americans back and build ladders of opportunity for all Americans, especially those in underserved communities – and laid out her plan to fight for environmental justice and make sure no one is left out or left behind in the fight against climate change.
The transcript of the remarks, as delivered, is below:
“Good afternoon everyone! I am delighted to be back here and I want to send greetings to everyone, particularly to Reverend Sharpton and to the board, to Reverend Richardson and all of those who work with him, to Melanie Campbell, to my long time friend Hazel Dukes, and to all who are gathered here today. It is wonderful to be back at the National Action Network for the 25th anniversary of your work on the frontlines of our nation’s continuing struggle for civil rights.
You stand up and always have against gun violence, advocate for criminal justice reform, help young people find jobs, hold corporations accountable, and in a million ways, lift up voices that too often go unheard.
So for me, it’s great being back in New York and wonderful being here. And I appreciate Reverend Sharpton introducing the mothers and other loved ones of those whom we we have lost, people who are joined in a “Club of Grief” that none of us ever want to be members of. And I am grateful for their witness and their extraordinary commitment to criminal justice reform, to common sense gun reforms, and so much else.
You know, on Monday, at a celebration of Jackie Robinson, who played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers 69 years ago this week, Reverend Sharpton said, “America was never the same.” Well, I think it’s fair to say that holds true for the National Action Network as well.
And I want you to imagine what Jackie Robinson would say if he could see us now. The decades since he put down his glove have brought remarkable progress: the rise of the black middle class, the tremendous leadership of African Americans in all walks of life – in business, in law, to government, science, the arts, all the professions, and, of course, Barack and Michelle Obama in the White House.
But, as you know so well, the last few years also have laid bare deep fault lines in America. They’ve revealed how frayed our bonds of trust and respect have become.
Despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with racism is far from finished.
And we are seeing that in this election.
When the front-runner for the Republican nomination was asked in a national television interview to disavow David Duke and other white supremacists supporting his campaign – he played coy. This is the same Donald Trump who led the insidious “birther” movement to delegitimize President Obama. He has called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. And the list goes on.
And not to be outdone by his primary rival, Ted Cruz would treat Muslim Americans like criminals and religiously profile their neighborhoods.
So, ugly currents that lurked just below the surface of our politics have burst into the open. And everyone sees this bigotry for what it is. Therefore, it is up to all of us to repudiate it.
Here in New York, we don’t all look the same, sound the same or worship the same. But we have learned over the years that America’s problems won’t be solved by building walls and dividing our country between “us” and “them.” We know our diversity is a strength, not a weakness. And New York represents the best of American values, despite what some on the other side have said and that we have to constantly challenge ourselves to stand up and face all that we still have to overcome.
Now of course, the problem goes far deeper than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
More than half a century after Rosa Parks sat, and Dr. King marched, and John Lewis bled, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.
There’s something wrong, my friends, when the median wealth for black families is a tiny fraction of the median wealth for white families, when African Americans are still more likely to be denied a mortgage.
Something’s wrong when black kids get arrested for petty crimes but white kids who do the same things don’t.
Something’s wrong when gun violence is by far the leading cause of death for young black men, outstripping the next nine causes of death combined.
Something’s wrong when so many black parents are burying their children.
Imagine if a white baby in parts of our country was twice as likely to die before her first birthday than a black baby. Imagine the outcry and the resources that would flood in to save those babies.
These are not only problems of economic inequality. They are also problems of racial inequality.
And it is time we face up to the reality of systemic racism in all of its forms.
And once we do, we are called to come together to break down all the barriers that still hold African-Americans back from fully participating in our economy and our society – and together, to build ladders of opportunity and empowerment in their place.
As I have said many times, white Americans need to do a much better job of listening when African-Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers you face every day.
We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility, rather than assume our experiences are everyone else’s experiences.
We need to try, as best we can, to walk in your shoes, to imagine what it would be like to sit down our son or daughter down and have “the talk,” or if people followed us around stores, or locked their car doors when we walked past.
This is a discipline that I have recognized and tried to practice in my own life ever since my Methodist youth minister took our Methodist youth fellowship group from our nearly-all white suburb to worship with black and Latino children in Chicago, and to hear Dr. King speak.
And then, in my first semester at law school, I met a woman named Marian Wright Edelman. Marian was actually here with me the last time I spoke at the National Action Network in 2007. Many of you know her story.
She was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Jackson, a friend of Dr. King’s and Robert Kennedy’s before they were assassinated, altogether a remarkable leader. Until I met Marian, I wasn’t clear how to channel my faith and commitment to social justice to make both a living and a difference in the world. I went to work for her at the Children’s Defense Fund. She sent me to her home state of South Carolina to investigate the problem of black teenagers being incarcerated in adult jails.
And when I look back at everything else I’ve done, whether it was going undercover in Alabama as a young woman to help expose segregated academies and strip them of their tax exemptions, or running a legal clinic at the University of Arkansas to represent prison inmates and poor families, it was all part of the same mission: to fight injustice and even the odds for those who have the odds stacked against them in life and in our society.
That was true when, as First Lady, I worked with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program that covers eight million children.
It was true when, as the Senator from New York, I worked with parents and doctors and community leaders to take on the epidemic of children’s asthma in Harlem and the Bronx.
It was true when I worked with the organization 100 Black Men to create the Eagle Academy, a public school here in New York City whose mission is serving young black and Latino men.
Or when I joined partners in New York, the Congressional delegation, like Charlie Rangel and Greg Meeks to bring jobs and investment to underserved neighborhoods, and worked with leaders including my great friend, the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones, to protect voting rights.
It was true when I went to David Dinkins’ annual conference at Columbia University last year and gave the first policy speech of my Presidential campaign about reforming our criminal justice system and ending the era of mass incarceration.
So what I have tried to do, what I intend to keep doing with your help, is to refuse to accept as normal the fact that black men today are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than white men convicted of the same offenses.
And we have seen the toll that takes on families torn apart by excessive incarceration, and children growing up in homes shattered by prison and poverty. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know how important it is that we address these issues.
And I applaud the National Action Network for being the champion of this cause and helping to build momentum for reform.
As your Senator, I fought against racial profiling and the disparity in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine.
As your President, I’ll work with you to lead a national effort for end-to-end reform in our criminal justice system and I will appoint an Attorney General who will continue the courageous work of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, two New Yorkers!
Now everyone, everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone is respected by the law.
So we have to rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve – and stop the tragedy of black men and women being killed by police or dying in custody.
Everyday, here in New York and all over America, there are many police officers inspiring trust and confidence, putting themselves on the line to save lives.
So let’s learn from those police and departments that are doing it right and apply those lessons across the country, and make sure the Justice Department has the resources to hold them accountable when they do it wrong.
Reforming our criminal justice system, though, is just the beginning of our work. Over the course of my campaign, including in February at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, I have been laying out a comprehensive agenda for equity and opportunity for black communities.
Mass incarceration is just one part of a broader set of interlocking challenges, because years of underinvestment and neglect have hollowed out many predominantly African-American communities. There aren’t enough jobs, and poverty persists from generation to generation. Not enough families, still today, have access to the education their children they deserve, the affordable housing they need to live in. Infrastructure has been allowed to crumble, even if it was ever built before.
A recent report found the economic impact of widespread inequality in education to be the equivalent of a “permanent national recession.” That’s a pretty good description of what it’s like to live in a community that’s been repeatedly left out and left behind. And reports of economic recovery, which are real, because I don’t think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for digging us out of the ditch the Republicans put us in in the first place, has given us a strong foundation to go further.
So, now we need a truly comprehensive approach to how we lift everybody up. That’s why I am proposing a major, $125 billion “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda” to revitalize and empower communities of color and places where unemployment and poverty remain stubbornly high – from inner cities to poor rural areas, from Appalachia to Indian Country.
The pillars of this agenda match many of the challenges that the National Action Network has also taken on.
It has to start with a strategy to create more good jobs. So my plan devotes $20 billion specifically to help young people find work and $5 billion to help people who have paid their debt to society find jobs and support when they get out of prison
We’re going to make more strategic investments in transit and infrastructure to connect black communities to areas where good-paying jobs actually are.
On Sunday, I was in Baltimore, where the NAACP is fighting the cancellation of a much-needed rail line that would have made it easier for African Americans in low-income neighborhoods to access economic opportunities in other parts of the city.
They say transportation is a civil rights issue – and I agree.
And we’re going to support black entrepreneurs, especially black women, who are a powerful entrepreneurial force to get the capital they need to start and grow small businesses, because that’s where a majority of the jobs will come from.
We’ll invest in education and apprenticeships. And it is outrageous that sixty-plus years after Brown v. Board of Education, our public schools are more segregated by race and income than they were in 1968.
We have to replace the school-to-prison pipeline with a cradle-to-college pipeline, because in America, every child should have a good teacher and a good school, no matter what ZIP code they live in.
And families, families need safe, affordable places to live. Black and Latino families are disproportionately affected by the crisis of affordable housing in New York and other cities across America. That’s forced thousands of people out of the neighborhoods where they lived for years.
Meanwhile, public housing is under enormous pressure. Over the past 15 years, federal funding for the New York City Housing Authority has declined by nearly 30 percent.
So as part of our “Breaking Every Barrier Agenda,” we’re going to make affordable housing a priority. We will defend and expand the current supply of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. We’ll boost funding for Section 8 vouchers, and give recipients more choice in deciding where to live. And because African-American homeownership has long been one of the surest ways to fund and build wealth, we’ll match up to $10,000 in savings for a down payment.
Now there’s one more part of this agenda – the Reverend asked me to be substantive. Well, I’m giving it to you. Because, you know what? When somebody asks for your vote, they should tell you what they’re going to do, not what they hope to do. And they should tell you to hold them accountable, which I want you too. Because it is important that we do this together. I want to just talk very briefly about an issue that doesn’t get enough attention. That is the challenge of environmental justice.
Now, we all know what happened in Flint. Children drinking and bathing in toxic water for nearly two years because their governor wanted to save a little money. Parents held up bottles of brown, murky water and said, something’s wrong here, but their concerns were dismissed and belittled.
Well, let me tell you, Flint is not alone. There are a lot of Flints across our country where children are exposed to polluted air, unhealthy water and chemicals that can increase cancer risk.
And like Flint, they tend to be places that are home to poor people and people of color.
What happened to Flint would never have happened in a wealthy suburb of Detroit.
It is no coincidence that black children are twice as likely as white children to suffer from asthma, three times more likely to be hospitalized, and five times more likely to die from the disease.
Or that children of color are more likely than white kids to suffer lead poisoning, which can lead to lifelong learning challenges and even behavioral problems.
It is no coincidence that nearly half of all Latinos in the United States live in places where the air does not even meet EPA public health standards.
Or that race is the single biggest factor determining whether you live near a toxic site, from “asthma alley” in the Bronx to “cancer alley” in Louisiana.
And you know what – climate change is going to make these burdens even heavier.
So today, I’m announcing a new plan to fight for environmental justice across America.
When President Obama and I both were in the Senate, we worked together on legislation aimed at getting harmful lead out of child care facilities, classrooms and homes with children. Now I want to set an ambitious national goal to eliminate lead as a major public threatwithin five years. Some say, “Well, that’s awfully ambitious.” I say, “If we put our minds to it, we can get it done. Let’s set that goal, and then let’s get everybody moving forward to achieve it. We know how to do the work, all we need is the will.
And let’s push polluters to pay for cleaning up hundreds of thousands of toxic sites across America. When I was in Senate, I helped pass a law to clean up brownfields, and worked to bring together developers, environmentalists, and local leaders from across New York to redevelop blighted properties. Let’s take that work nationwide.
Let’s reduce air pollution and combat climate change by investing in clean energy and clean transportation.
And oh, by the way, we’ll put a lot of people to work. As part of a major national infrastructure strategy, let’s protect health and safety by repairing not only what we can see but what we can’t, like the failing water systems, run-down public housing, and crumbling schools. Right now in the Detroit public schools, there are children in classrooms breathing the toxins from mold and there are rodents sharing their space.
And even here in New York, we know we’ve got problems. Let’s do more, like Philadelphia did, when it installed green roofs and porous pavements to keep sewers from backing up into low-income neighborhoods.
Now you don’t have to look too far to see what this means for people. A woman named Michelle Holmes is here with us today.
She’s lived in the Polo Grounds Towers in Harlem for decades. She does daily battle with roaches, vermin, and other pests. And then the chemicals used to exterminate them cause other problems. Her family has frequent asthma attacks that often land them in the hospital. And then there’s the mold – brown and green spots on the bathroom ceiling. No one should have to live like that in America.
Every child and every family in America deserves clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and a safe and healthy place to live. This a justice issue. It’s a civil rights issue. And as President, it will be a national priority for us.
So my friends, throughout this campaign, and then as President, I’m going to keep fighting to break down all the barriers holding back every American. My door will always be open to you. You will always have a friend and a partner in the White House.
See, I believe that Democrats have a special obligation. If we’re going to ask African-Americans to vote for us, we can’t take you or your vote for granted.
We can’t just show up at election time and say the right things and think that’s enough.
We can’t start building relationships a few weeks before a vote.
We have to demonstrate a sustained commitment to building opportunity, creating prosperity and righting wrongs – not just every two or four years, not just when the cameras are on and people are watching, but every single day. I have worked on these causes all my adult life. I’m going to keep going at it no matter what.
And I want to close today by paying tribute to some extraordinary women who are here with us – who inspire me every day to fight harder, work longer, and never, ever give up.
You heard their names, when Reverend Sharpton introduced them, but I’ve gotten to know some of them personally, and have had the great honor of spending time with them.
Gwen Carr from here in New York, the mother of Eric Garner, who was stopped for selling loose cigarettes on the street and ended up dead.
Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, shot and killed in Florida just for walking through the development where his own father lived.
Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell, shot and killed by police here in New York on the morning of his wedding day.
And Nicole Bell, his fiancee who would have married Sean that fateful day.
All these women and the others who are here, the family members of those who have been lost, not only by police action but by gun violence of any kind, anywhere. The man who killed Trayvon Martin should have never had a gun in the first place. All of these women and other family members have endured unimaginable pain. I look at them and wonder whether I would have been that strong and resilient.
Their grief is unimaginable but they have not been broken. Instead, they are channeling their sorrow into a strategy and their mourning into a movement.
They are standing up for criminal justice reform and they are standing up against the epidemic of gun violence that takes on average, 90 people a day. That is 33,000 people a year killed by guns in America, every year. Now, my opponent, who will be speaking to youtomorrow, and I don’t see this the same way. But, I think this is a national emergency and I’m going to do everything I can to take on the gun lobby and to try to save lives, the lives of the children of women like this and the sisters and the brothers and the daughters and the sons of so many others.
And I will work as hard as I can as your President to keep faith with them for police reform and demanding a criminal justice system that actually delivers justice.
They’re living what the Scripture tells us: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
These are words to live by and I believe these are words to govern by. Think of the future we can build if we work together and don’t grow weary doing good. The men on both sides of me have not grown weary. This organization has not grown weary. It is our obligation and our challenge not to grow weary either until every American has the dignity, the justice, and the opportunity they deserve.
That’s the future we should want for our children and our country. That’s why I’m asking for your support in this election, starting on the primary on Tuesday. And that’s why we will roll up our sleeves and we will get results that will make us proud to be standing together for the kind of future that every child in this country deserves to have. Thank you and God bless you.”