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Five Years After Lehman, Recovery for the Majority

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Five years ago, the nation was on the brink of disaster. Lehman Brothers, long thought untouchable, declared bankruptcy. Businesses were laying off hundreds of thousands, banks stopped lending money, the economy was shrinking at a rate of over 8 percent and soon the ripple effects of this downfall impacted almost everyone. Struggling to make ends meet, families soon saw their entire life's savings eroded, their houses foreclosed upon and a sense of hopelessness taking over everything. The financial crisis of 2008 was the worst economic collapse in decades, and the nation needed unfettered rescuing. When President Obama took office, it was that idea of rescuing that became one of his top priorities. As we look back over the last several years, it's clear that the private sector has recovered and has in turn added millions of jobs. But while we commend their success, we know that it's time to join the president in dealing with the economy for the rest of us. The middle class and poor are still suffering, and no matter what your own political affiliation or views of the president are, you cannot ignore those that need assistance. Let's hope partisan bickering can cease long enough to finish rescuing the people of this great nation.

A recent report based on IRS figures dating back to 1913 states that the nation's wealth gap is the highest it has ever been since before the Great Depression. The incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent last year, while the remaining 99 percent only saw a 1 percent increase. If that weren't bad enough, the top 10 percent took some 48.2 percent of total earnings in 2012. Economists everywhere say that this sort of disparity hasn't been visible since the years leading up to the devastating stock market crash of 1929. Those should be sobering facts for everyone. We cannot live in a nation where only the select few receive opportunities, bailouts and rescue options. And we cannot sell unattainable dreams to people who don't start out on equal footing, and to those who suffer from unequal access to jobs, affordable housing, quality schools and more. Did we need to save the private sector? Absolutely. But we're nowhere near done saving families who are still suffering from the effects of the financial crisis that they didn't create.

Time and again we have watched as Congress fails to act. Why do they continue to fail to pass a jobs bill? Why do certain members propose cuts to vital programs like food stamps that are often the only way children and families can have a meal? Why do they quickly demonize the poor and those without a voice as they propose cuts that will only result in pain and misery for innocent Americans who played no role in the collapse of Lehman? Why do certain elected officials continue to call for the repeal of Obamacare over and over again as they enjoy their lavish government health care packages? The willingness of Congress and some of our leaders to put politics before people has reached new heights, and we cannot remain in silence as they gamble away equality and prosperity for their own personal gain. Another budget debate will soon be facing Congress, and we must call out all those that will hold the nation hostage in order to advance their own twisted agendas.

It's hard to believe that it's been five years since the collapse of Lehman. But it's important to remember that the last half-decade could have taken another more detrimental turn. Thanks to things like a stimulus package, auto recovery and other bailouts, we stopped the economic crisis from turning into another Great Depression. And because the extent of the damage was so severe, it took time to stop destruction and to reverse it. Thankfully, more and more jobs are being added every month, business is growing, health care reform is in place and fewer homes are being foreclosed upon. But while we celebrate these achievements, let's not forget that there are millions still suffering every single day. They haven't asked for a bailout; they just want Congress and our leaders to do their jobs. It's up to us to make sure that they do.

When you have a car accident, you don't leave the hospital if only the people in the front recover; you wait for the people in the back. And you definitely don't leave people injured in the hospital hallway. The private sector is on its way; now everyone deserves the same.