The worst downturn since the Great Depression has devastated American families. More than 15 million would-be workers – including nearly 200,000 in Colorado – are now unemployed. One-third have been jobless for six months or more. Another nine million have succeeded in finding only part-time work. And millions more have given up looking for a job altogether.
A little more than a year ago, some of America's biggest financial institutions helped send our nation into its deepest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. Since then, millions of Americans have lost their homes, their paychecks, and their savings.
Thirty-five years ago, the United States exported more goods and services than we imported. That was the last time our nation ran a trade surplus. Since then, we’ve been importing far more than we’ve been exporting. Over the last decade, our trade deficit has averaged roughly half a trillion dollars per year.
Increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are imperiling our planet. Our addiction to fossil fuels darkens our skies, damages our water, destroys our wetlands and wildlife habitat, and disrupts our climate. The consequences of inaction will be catastrophic, not only for our health and our environment but also for our economy and our national security.
Each year, the high cost of health care sends 700,000 Americans into bankruptcy – and nearly 45,000 to an early grave. Every day, someone in Colorado dies from a medical problem he or she cannot afford to treat or prevent.
No institution has proven to be more pivotal to America’s prosperity than public education. The productivity of our workforce and the vitality of our democracy both depend on our willingness to sustain a thorough and innovative system of free public schools.
Today, America’s immigration system is broken. An estimated 12 million immigrants live in the U.S. without proper authorization, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Thousands of would-be residents and citizens are stranded in line, struggling to escape hardship or persecution and eager to contribute their labor and their talent to our nation.
The deadly specter of terrorism, the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and the Iranian president’s call for the destruction of the State of Israel have darkened the prospects for peace in the Middle East. The fate of the region and, in many ways, the stability of the world hang in the balance.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
We have struggled for more than two centuries to make good on the premise contained in the Declaration of Independence and to secure our “unalienable rights.”
Special interests are corrupting our political system. The nation’s biggest insurance firms, drug-makers, oil companies, and Wall Street banks pour millions of dollars into Congressional campaigns in order to delay, dilute or derail the reform we need.
From the days of the American Revolution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation has relied on the bravery and sacrifice of the members of its Armed Forces. We owe our troops, our veterans, and their families more than a debt of gratitude. We owe them our full support, both at home and abroad.