Edwards Speaks With Young Voters at Myspace-MTV Debate, Unveils "One America" Agenda For Young People

Plans will Restore Our Nation’s Moral Authority and Expand Economic Opportunities for Young Americans

Manchester , New Hampshire – Today at his MySpace-MTV forum in New Hampshire, Senator John Edwards announced a bold ten-part agenda to restore America’s moral authority in the world and build One America where every young person has the opportunity to go as far as their talents can carry them.

“You hear all the time from political pundits that young people don't care about politics – but it’s a lie,” said Edwards. “Young people all over the country care about America and are engaged in bringing change to their communities.

“The truth is the power to change America is in every young person, it’s in all of us,” Edwards continued. “And, as we look forward to a new day, we must never forget that only by joining together and fighting for something bigger than all of us can we fix the broken system in Washington and achieve real change in America.”

“John Edwards has said that it is time for Americans to be patriotic about something other than war, ” said Laura Jones, the president of the University of New Hampshire College Democrats. “ The problems our country faces cannot be passed on to another generation. I am supporting John Edwards because he will work every day to end the war in Iraq, stop global warming, and provide health insurance to every man, woman, and child in America, but I am also supporting John Edwards because he ’ s asking youngAmericans to roll up their sleeves, get involved and help build one America that everyone in my generation can be proud of.”

Edwards’ “One America” Agenda for Young People will restore America’s leadership in the world and fight to ensure everyone has the chance to succeed by:

Restoring moral leadership here and abroad: Edwards will end the war in Iraq, halt global warming and build a new energy economy, take action in Darfur and Uganda, fight poverty at home and abroad, and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Expanding opportunity for every American: Edwards has proposed a national College for Everyone program, overhauling student loans and financial aid, guaranteeing universal health care, raising the minimum wage, and fighting credit card debt and abuse. To expand his conversation with young voters, Edwards elected to be the first presidential candidate to participate in MySpace and MTV’s inaugural Presidential Candidate Dialogue, which will take place today at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. In an innovative interactive twist, questions will be submitted by audience members who signed up for tickets through Edwards’ MySpace page, as well as from online users in real-time via MySpaceIM and MTV.com. The forum will be moderated by MTV News Correspondents SuChin Pak and Gideon Yago as well as WashingtonPost.com political reporter, Chris Cillizza. Industry-leadingpollsters John McLaughlin and Geoffrey Garin will oversee real-time polling of online users, gauging their opinions of each response.

For further information on Edwards’ “One America” Agenda for Young People please see the document below. More information can also be found on the Young Americans for Edwards web page: www.johnedwards.com/youngamerica.

John Edwards’ “One America” Agenda for Young People


“You hear all the time from political pundits that young people don't care about politics. It's a lie –there are young people all over the country that care about America and are engaged in bringing change to their communities. Our nation is at a crossroads. The voice and actions of young Americas are critical in shaping the future direction of our country – a future that will depend on whether we fix the broken system in Washington and confront thegreat challenges that face us.”– John Edwards

Young people of conscience and conviction have been a part of every major movement for change in America – from the labor movement to civil rights, the women’s movement to the fight to end the Vietnam War. The same is true today. Young people are demanding change and demanding that America be a force for good in the world again – in Darfur, against global poverty, on climate change, against HIV/AIDS and the other great challenges that confront us.

Here at home, Americans are also worried about our own future. Only 30 percent of Americans think life will be better for the next generation – the belief at the core of the American Dream. At the same time that so many young people are investing their lives in movements for change, they are borrowing more than ever to go to college, frequently entering young adulthood without health insurance or job security, and being targeted by abusive financial services companies. [ Edison Media Research, 2006]

John Edwards has announced a bold ten-part agenda to restore America’s moral authority in the world and build One America where every young person has the opportunity to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.


Restoring Moral Leadership Here and Abroad


Ending the War in Iraq: Restoring America’s leadership role in the world must start by ending the war in Iraq. There is no military solution to the chaos there. Instead, the Iraqi people must solve the problem politically by taking responsibility for their country. By leaving Iraq, America will prompt the Iraqi people, regional powers, and the entire international community to find the political solution that will end the sectarian violence and create stability. We must show the Iraqis that we are serious about leaving by actually starting to leave, with an immediate withdrawal of 40,000-50,000 troops, completely withdraw all combat troops in Iraq within nine to ten months and prohibit permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. After withdrawal, we should retain sufficient forces in the region to contain the conflict and ensure that instability in Iraq does not spill over into other countries, creating a regional war, a terrorist haven or a genocide.

Halting Global Warming and Building a New Energy Economy: We must act now to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, end our nation's dependence on oil, and usher in a new energy economy. Edwards has a comprehensive plan to halt global warming by capping and reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 80 percent by 2050, creating a new energy economy including 1 million new jobs and, instead of producing more power, meeting the demand for new electricity for the next decade through efficiency,. At the forefront of the climate action movement, young people have led the way in answering Edwards’ call forAmericans to be patriotic about something other than war.

Taking Action in Darfur and Uganda : Today, two neighboring nations in Africa, Sudan and Uganda, face a pivotal moment. In three years of deadly conflicts in Darfur, at least 400,000 people have been killed and more than 3.5 million have become entirely dependent on international aid. Uganda is home to one of the greatest unreported humanitarian crises in the world – millions of people have been displaced from their homes and subjected to horrific violence. There comes a time when we must say, “Never again.” Edwards has outlined steps America can take with its NATO allies to help end the genocide in Darfur and to support the peace process in Uganda. With these steps, we can turn the corner in both countries and put the region back on the road topeace and economic security. We are at critical moments in both countries, and we need to act now.


Fighting Poverty at Home and in the World: In the United States today, nearly 37 million Americans live in poverty – including 12.8 million children. Roughly half the world’s population subsists on two dollars a day or less. Edwards believes that fighting poverty – at home and around the world – is the great moral issue of our time. He has laid out detailed plans to end poverty in America within 30 years, andcombat global poverty around the world. At home, he will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2012, create 1 million new housing vouchers and take other steps to reward work, expand opportunity and promote strong families. He will also lead a worldwide effort to make primary education universal, fight disease and promote democracy and women’s rights. [Census Bureau, 2007; World Bank, 2004]

Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic : The fight against HIV/AIDS is a fight for peoples’ lives. HIV/AIDS is a treatable disease – yet in 2005 it killed 17,000 Americans and 3 million people globally. We have a moral imperative to do much more and do it much better. Edwards is the only presidential candidate to lay out a comprehensive plan to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Building on his plans to provide universal health care for all Americans, Edwards’ HIV/AIDSagenda provides greater resources to fight the epidemic in African-American and Latino communities in the U.S. where infection rates have drastically risen, supports science-based prevention strategies and invests $50 billion over five years to meet the global goal of universal access to treatment and prevention by 2010.


Expanding Opportunity for Every Young American


Expanding Opportunity through College for Everyone : As a young man, John Edwards watched as his father got passed over for better jobs because he lacked a college education. College graduates can expect to earn $1 million more over their lifetimes than high school graduates, and their children are almost twice as likely to attend college themselves. However, an estimated 200,000 college-qualified graduates do not attend college each year. Students from high-incomefamilies are five times more likely to enroll in college than their low-income peers. College-age black and Latino Americans are only about half as likely to be enrolled as other students. Students who do go to college now leave with more than $19,000 in debt, twice as much as a decade ago. [College Summit, 2007; Dynarski, 1999; NACAC, 2005; Project on Student Debt, 2007]


Two years ago, Edwards helped start a College for Everyone program in Greene County, North Carolina that has increased the college-going rate from 54 percent to 74 percent. As president, Edwards will create a similar national plan to pay one year of public-college tuition, fees and books for more than 2 million students. In return, students will be required to work part-time in college, take a college-prep curriculum in high school, and stay out of trouble.


Overhauling Student Loan and Financial Aid: Edwards is committed to making college affordable for everyone. In addition to enacting College for Everyone, he will eliminate wasteful subsidies that go to for-profit student loan companies and, instead, let all students borrow directly from the Department of Education -- as millions of students already do. He will simplify the financial aid application process, and help every low-income Title I high school hire a new college counselor.

Guaranteeing Universal Health Care: Young Americans need the security of knowing that they've got good health care. Young adults are the most likely age group not to be insured - and those that are insured are paying for all those who aren't. Edwards was the first major candidate to propose a detailed plan that guarantees quality, affordable health care for every American, taking on the big drug and insurance companies in the process. He will suspend health care coverage for members of Congress and senior political appointees if universal health care legislation is notenacted within the first six months of his administration. [Census Bureau, 2007]

Raising the Minimum Wage to $9.50 by 2012: America has always been about building a better life for the next generation, but the low-wage economy has taken a toll on this generation. Men in their thirties today earn less in real terms than men of their fathers’ generation did 30 years ago. To raise the floor on wages and combat inequality, Edwards will raise the minimum wage by 75 cents a year until it reaches $9.50 in 2012. Edwards will then index the minimum wage so that itautomatically rises each year along with average wages, ensuring that all workers share in America’s growth. He will also restore the minimum wage for tipped workers to half the full minimum wage – the minimum wage for these workers has stood at $2.13 since 1997. [EPI, 2007]

Fighting Credit Card Debt and Debit Card Abuse: Debt has begun to define a generation. The burden of mounting student loans is exacerbated by the predatory lending practices of some financial services companies, which often target college students. The average college senior has five credit cards. By the time young adults reach the 25-34 age bracket, they spend nearly 25 percent of their income on debt service payments. Debit cardholders between 18 and 24 years old are paying nearly $1 billion a year in fees for abusive overdraft loans. Edwards will create a new consumer watchdog agency whose sole purpose will be to crack down on these kinds of predatory practices. He will also enact a Borrower’s Security Act requiring credit card companies to: (1) disclose the true cost of making only minimum payments, (2) restore a 10-day grace period before imposing late fees and penalty rates, (3) apply interest rate increases to future balances only, and (4) end the practice of universal default, where a creditor can change borrowers’ terms based on their debt and payments to other creditors. [Nellie Mae, 2005; Demos, 2007; CRL, 2007]