Working families are facing unprecedented economic uncertainty in Arizona, but our leaders in Washington have failed to solve the problem.
We’ve had a slow road to recovery in our state. Our unemployment rate in Arizona still stands at 8.2 percent. And while every member of Congress says their top priority is to create jobs, instead they’ve spent four years blaming each other instead of finding solutions.
In these pages, one of our state’s top elected officials recently accused the rival party of playing class warfare. In his worldview, one party is 100 percent right and the other 100 percent wrong. That, frankly, just isn’t the case. Both sides have gotten it wrong and deserve blame for what’s happened to our economy.
Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of not providing proper oversight of a financial sector that turned our economy into a casino. Both Democrats and Republicans have failed to balance the budget, reform the tax code or cut our national debt. And both Democrats and Republicans have focused on political distractions instead of creating jobs.
Any honest discussion about the economy has to start with the realization that our elected leadership has failed us. There’s a lot we can do to get this economy moving, but at this point it has to start with more rational and civil behavior from the folks we send to Washington.
To start with, both parties are missing the point about how we’ll rebuild our economy for the long run. Americans don’t need handouts from the government or special favors from lobbyists to succeed. They need an infrastructure of opportunity that allows them to take chances, to get an education and follow their vision.
I know how crucial fostering opportunity is, because without it I wouldn’t be where I am today. I grew up in a poor Hispanic family in New York City. We struggled and had to learn to navigate economic and social injustice.
I dropped out of high school, but enlisting in the Army saved my life. I got my GED so I could join Special Forces, later serving as a combat medic and weapons specialist in Vietnam. When I came home, I got into college through an open enrollment program for Vietnam vets. And thanks to the GI Bill, I was able to pay my way through college and medical school.
I went on to become a trauma surgeon, hospital administrator, university professor and the 17th Surgeon General of the United States. I also served my community in law enforcement, serving Pima County as a SWAT team leader, homicide detective and deputy sheriff.
I’m running for the United States Senate because I fear the infrastructure of opportunity that allowed me to live the American Dream is in danger. I fear that a poor kid today won’t get the same opportunities I did.
I’ve worked very hard to get where I am. And what makes this country great is that I know there are millions of other Americans who will work just as hard if given the chance. That’s all any American asks for or needs, an opportunity.
For Congress to spend four years on distractions and partisan attacks instead of focusing on fostering opportunities for Americans to succeed on their own is an embarrassment. We can do better.