Americans have long believed that with education and hard work, each generation can do better than the one before and that where one starts in life should not limit where one ends up. This broad-based opportunity for individual advancement has provided a powerful incentive for industrious activity, spurring the unprecedented economic growth that the United States has enjoyed for more than two centuries. Yet the fundamental principle that all citizens should have an opportunity to succeed is at risk today because the nation is neither paying its way nor investing adequately in its future.
At a time when the United States must take affirmative steps to secure its position as the world’s leading economic power, our nation has failed to tackle its fiscal imbalance and neglected key areas of investment: we have a school system that fails to provide enough of its students with a world-class education; an infrastructure that is ill prepared for today’s technological challenges; and a government that has not adapted to be as efficient and effective as today’s world demands. Without a change in course, the lifetime prospects of today’s younger Americans will be unnecessarily and unfairly inhibited—undermining the traditional vision of ever-increasing opportunity for succeeding generations.