John F. Kerry photo

Radio Address to the Nation

October 23, 2004

Good morning. This is John Kerry.

Just last month, I was talking with a group of folks in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania about lost jobs and rising costs – when a woman in the crowd slowly stood up. She told me that her name was Lori Sheldon, and with tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said, "You just told our story. You see those two young ladies over there? Those are my daughters. I'm tired of saying no to them. We say no all the time."

As I travel across this country, I meet women like Lori every single day. Women who are squeezed between rising costs and sinking wages, and who are falling further and further behind. And the hardest thing is that no matter how tough it gets, no one in the White House seems to be listening.

Well I want you to know that I see what's going on – and I'm listening to what you're telling me. And with your help, I will fight every day so that women like Lori Sheldon can once again start saying yes – yes to themselves, yes to their children, and yes to their dreams for a better future.

George Bush likes to talk about how being President is "hard work." Well, before he complains about his job, he ought to spend a day with the women who are struggling hard to get by.

He is the first president in 72 years to lose jobs. But his own Treasury Secretary says that job losses are nothing but a "myth."

Four and a half million women struggle to get by on the minimum wage, and nearly two and a half million have fallen into poverty in just the past four years. And the Bush Administration claims that this is the best economy of our lifetime.

Today, women continue to make just 76 cents for every dollar earned by men. And George Bush's Chief Economist at the Department of Labor has claimed that the pay gap is "phony" and a "fiction."

Mr. President, women worrying when they hear their children cough in the middle of the night because they can't afford health care aren't myths. Women struggling to fill up their grocery carts on $5.15 an hour isn't fiction. And when women put away every dime they can and still don't know if they can send their kids to college, it isn't the best economy of our lifetime. It's reality, and we need a President who's finally willing to face it and do something about it.

I'll be a president who works for the women of America who work at a job – and who do the most important job of all, raising our children.

We will make sure that women get the wages they've earned – and not a penny less. Today, women pay the same amount as men for groceries and rent and health care, but they're still making 24 cents less on the dollar. That's wrong, and when I'm President, we'll fight to close the pay gap once and for all, because equal work deserves equal pay – no ands, ifs, or buts about it.

We're going to increase the minimum wage, something George Bush has opposed for four years. Today, there are too many working women being paid the minimum wage who are still living in poverty. That's wrong, and when I'm President, we'll raise it to $7 an hour, giving a financial boost to 9.2 million working women and lifting millions out of poverty. That's a good start -- but we know it's not enough. So we're also going to create good paying jobs that let families get ahead.

Finally, we're going to roll back George Bush's restrictions that could take overtime pay away from up to 6 million Americans, including millions of women. That's wrong, and when I'm President, we're going to ensure that when you work extra hours, you'll get the extra pay you deserve.

This can be our future – if you choose it. This can be our future if you have the hope and belief that America can always do better. This can be our future if we come together, make our voices heard, and believe in ourselves again. And ten days from now, with your help, we'll make sure that our best days are still ahead of us.

Thanks for listening.

John F. Kerry, Radio Address to the Nation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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