Our nation’s prosperity is tied to the prosperity of our rural communities. This is certainly true in Colorado, where farming and ranching are a proud tradition and a vital part of our economy. The people of rural Colorado work the land, and they persevere in the face of drought, scarce resources, freezing temperatures and scorching heat so that our state and country can have a reliable, safe, high-quality supply of food.
Our nation is undergoing an economic upheaval the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression. The number of unemployed Americans increased by 563,000 to 13.7 million in April 2009, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent overall. In Colorado, more than 58,000 workers have lost their jobs, and every day, more and more Coloradans fall behind in their mortgage payments.
Public schools have empowered America to fulfill its promise to the next generation. Yet our public schools are falling short. 1.2 million children drop out of high school every year. We rank 20th among industrialized nations for high school graduation rates. Forty years ago we were first. Seventy percent of our 8th graders can’t read at grade level.
America and Colorado need a comprehensive energy policy that establishes aggressive targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and includes responsible development of our traditional energy resources. We need all sources if we ever want to free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil.
It’s time to change the way Washington does business. We have to begin the long and difficult task of putting our nation’s fiscal house in order. It won’t happen overnight, but our long-term economic prosperity and security and our children’s future depend on attacking the huge debt and deficits that threaten to cripple us.
Each day, Coloradans are denied insurance coverage for treatment their doctor recommends. Families and individuals are being charged higher premiums, losing benefits, and going into debt because of medical bills. There is no “easy fix” solution to the problems in our health care system. But I support reform, and I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to provide quality, affordable health care to the people of Colorado and the nation.