Real leaders don't spread derision and division -- they build partnerships and offer solutions instead of ideology and blame.
And they make improving people's lives their highest priority.
That's the message I delivered in response to Donald Trump's address to Congress tonight.
We heard throughout his campaign as he promised that making life better for the working men and women of this country would be his priority. The only problem is the GOP's agenda is fundamentally at odds with the best interests of those Americans.
I'm proud to be a Democrat because I know that when our party is firing on all cylinders, we have what it takes to help people in big, meaningful ways. Our policies and our priorities are the ones that make a difference in the lives of the greatest number of people in this country -- not just the 1% who stand to benefit from Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan's plans.
As Democrats, our job is to make that case. Anne, can I count on you to help us do it?
When I was governor of the red state of Kentucky, I saw firsthand the disconnect between what people think Democrats stand for in Washington and the good work we were doing on the ground. My state had some of the most unhealthy people in this country for as long as they have been keeping rankings. We needed a big solution. Lo and behold, the Affordable Care Act came along, and I saw it as our one chance to make a big difference in people's futures.
Kentucky is not a rich state, and I was worried if we could afford to do it. I found out that we couldn't afford not to do it. Independent, third-party projections showed that over the next eight years, it would infuse $15 billion into our state's economy, create 17,000 new jobs, and have a positive impact on our budget.
I would tell many skeptical Kentuckians, "Look, you don't have to like the president, and you don't have to like me -- because this is not about him or me. It's about you. It's about your family. It's about your kids." We showed how it would help us economically. How if we had a healthy workforce, we could have a productive workforce.
In the first 18 months, we had almost half a million people sign up for coverage -- many of whom were getting health care for the first time in their lives. We saw one of the largest drops in the uninsured rate in the country, from 20 to 7.5 percent. And a study of the first year of expanded Medicaid showed a positive economic impact on Kentucky's economy and state budget that was even higher than anticipated.
My successor in office was a Republican who ran and won on the promise of ripping up Obamacare on day one. But we saw in Kentucky that when repeal rhetoric meets repeal reality -- reality wins. Rather than killing a policy that was working for so many, Governor Bevin instead made alterations with some conservative window dressing while leaving core elements and benefits in place. Just like a governor named Mike Pence did in Indiana. But the ACA is still under attack, and families are still at risk.
American families desperately need our president to put his full attention on creating opportunity and good-paying jobs and preserving their right to affordable health care and a quality education. It's up to Democrats to keep making our case and keep that pressure on.
Pitch in $3 or more tonight to help our party take this fight to all 50 states -- and win it.
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