By Representative Sue Myrick
Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
It's a question that we've heard a lot over the past several months. But when talking to people back home, it's become clear that the real question is "Do you think your kids and grandkids will be better off than you are?"
Unfortunately, the answer is often "no".
Recent economic reports indicate that the average median household income is down 1.5%, meaning that hardworking Americans are supporting their families on less while the cost of everything is going up -- gas, groceries, utility bills -- you name it.
Unemployment has been at or above 8% for more than 40 months. In North Carolina, it's much higher -- at 9.6%.
Parents are worried that their kids aren't going to have the same career opportunities as they did, and are seeing them struggle to find a job after high school and college.
This job uncertainty comes from more than just people who are out of work. The number of people who have been forced out of the job market is higher than it's been in 30 years -- meaning for every person who found a job in August, nearly four simply gave up looking for one.
Businesses can't plan for the future because of ever-changing regulations. Health care costs are going up instead of down following a complete overhaul of our nation's health care system.
Middle class Americans are daily threatened with higher tax rates based on the notion that the best way to fix our economy is to tax more and spend more.
As we stare down the fiscal cliff, our national debt has topped $16 trillion, with more debt added in the past four years than by any other president in U.S. history.
And too often we see our leaders turn away from our founding principles. The ideals that make America great are made plain in our founding documents. To ignore them gives government far too much power to take, control, and rule as it sees fit.
Clearly there is reason for the American people to feel worse off than they were four years ago and to worry about the opportunities that will be available for future generations.
But we can change that.
We can change it by allowing the American people -- not the government -- to create real and lasting jobs.
We can change it by allowing the American people -- not government -- to make decisions about their health care and the care of their loved ones.
And, most importantly, we can change it by allowing the American people -- not the government -- to benefit from their paychecks and decide how to best spend and invest their hard-earned money.
The economic issues facing our country are ones that impact all Americans, regardless of party affiliation. And it will take more than labeling something Republican or Democrat to right our course.
While the American people may not feel that they are better off now than they were four years ago, we can still give future generations an America that is full of opportunity and prosperity.
Ours is a country of the people, by the people, for the people. The American people are speaking out, and it's our responsibility to listen to them.