We need more than words.

Yesterday, President Obama spoke to a crowd at The ARC arts schoolhouse about the real deficit in our nation – which has nothing to do with our national budget. He said, “A relentlessly growing deficit of opportunity is a bigger threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit.” The President explained that the lack of economic mobility in our country has led to the wealthy staying wealthy, and the working poor finding it harder than ever to get out of poverty.

He said that this is an American problem, not one that people face in other first-world nations. President Obama said, “It is harder today for a child born in America to improve her station in life than it is for children in most of our wealthy allies, countries like Canada or Germany or France.” The president was referring to the perpetuation of trickle-down economics, which started in the late 1970s and created an ever-widening wealth gap in our nation. He called on Congress to pass legislation that could reverse this economic inequality – like universal preschool, a minimum wage hike, and the Paycheck Fairness Act. And, his speech brought back images of the old social contract – the so-called American Dream – when a child's economic future would “not be determined by the ZIP code he's born into, but by the strength of his work ethic and scope of his dreams.”

Once upon a time, these principles were not just ideals in our nation, but policies that gave everyone an equal chance at success. Today, the system is rigged, and it's harder than ever for those born at the bottom of the income ladder to climb their way to the top. President Obama's speech cut right to the core of some of the biggest issues in our nation, but we need more than words to fix this broken system. It's time for our elected leaders to get to to work at restoring the American Dream.

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