It’s not exactly a secret that Washington hasn’t worked as well as it should. Between the constant gridlock and partisanship, most people just tune this town out. That was especially true this year when the government literally shut down.
Yet, even in spite of all that, thanks to the grit of the American people, this country continues to move forward. After the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, folks are getting back to work and the economy is getting stronger.
And late this year, Washington took a cue — and managed to make some progress itself.
While it’s too early to declare a new era of bipartisanship, what we’ve seen recently is that Washington is capable of getting things done when it wants to. And there’s an opportunity next year for this town to do its job and make real progress.
For the first time in years, both parties in Congress came together and passed a budget. This budget doesn’t include everything that everyone wanted — but our economy will grow a little faster, be a little fairer for middle-class families, and create more jobs because of it.
Our businesses created 2 million jobs in 2013. That’s more than 8 million private-sector jobs in just over 45 months.
The economy is growing. Just last week we learned that, over the summer, our economy grew at 4.1% — its strongest pace in almost two years.
We’ve cut the deficit in half since 2009. That’s four years of the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II — and it means we’re improving our nation’s long-term fiscal position while strengthening our economy.
We produce more oil in the U.S. than we import from abroad. Thanks to an all-of-the-above strategy, we’re reducing our reliance on foreign oil — and that means lower energy costs for consumers.
Americans are getting better health coverage. Since October 1st, more than 1 million Americans have selected new health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces. And millions more are getting better health care thanks to increased protections and benefits.
There’s a little less gridlock in Congress. Leaders in Congress took action so that executive and judicial nominees (except to the Supreme Court) can be confirmed with a simple majority vote. Now we’re filling critical vacancies, and the government will work better for Americans because of it.
So while the politics in Washington can be frustrating and change takes time, that’s no excuse for inaction. In the New Year, we need to help American businesses continue creating jobs, make sure Americans are ready for those jobs, and make sure those jobs offer the wages and benefits that give families a fair shot at financial security.
We also need to look out for those who are searching for a job. Congress needs to extend unemployment insurance, something we’ll be making a priority when members come back to work.
Thanks, and happy holidays.