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Column: Like Kennedy, Obama Expands National Service Programs

This story was written by Will Passo, The Duke Chronicle


John F. Kennedy's quote, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country," has never been more relevant than today. Obama's administration will do more than just fix the economy, restore lost foreign policy credentials and deliver health care to millions of Americans. President-elect Barack Obama will call upon all Americans, young and old, Republican and Democrat, to make patriotic sacrifices to make our country great once again.

Obama intends to follow the path of the great Kennedy by expanding national service programs, such as Kennedy's Peace Corps, that ask Americans to give back to the country. Not stopping there, Obama will create additional programs, including Classroom Corps that will help teachers maintain healthy learning environments in impoverished school districts. Other programs slated are a new Health, Clean Energy and Veteran Corps.

The new White House will also actively call upon America's youth to do their part to resurrect the country. This challenge includes not only joining one of Obama's new programs, but also meeting the administration's goal to have every middle and high school student complete 50 hours of community service yearly. Obama will summon retiring Americans to volunteer and to work in programs such as Head Start and YouthBuild.

Obama understands, though, that America will also need sweeping changes in policy to recover. The first hundred days of the Obama administration will heavily focus on the economy. Bipartisan legislation will be passed to provide direct, immediate assistance for homeowners bogged down by the financial crisis. Obama will not support a bailout for irresponsible mortgage lenders, however. More economic relief will come in a tax cut for 95 percent of workers and families. Obama and Biden also plan a new American jobs tax credit to help create domestic jobs. A zero capital gains rate for investment in small businesses will also jumpstart the economy.

America got a taste of how our image will change upon watching celebrations in Kenya, cheering in New Delhi and jubilation in Paris. Gone will be the nation that preemptively goes into war. Gone will be the nation that neglects the middle class in favor of the elite. Gone will be the nation that watches our planet degrade right before our eyes. Obama's policies will change this country for the better. Just remember, there is no more important resource for changing the direction of this country and defining the ideas that will transform America than the American people.

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