Poverty is one of the great moral issues of our time. It cuts to the heart of Americas great promise: that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules will have the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their family. And I believe that the American people are ready to do something about it if our leaders are willing to ask them.
You can tell a lot about people by how they treat their neighbors in need. And I believe that you can tell a lot about a countrys character by how they treat millions of people who live at the margins and below: Do we send them to the shadowy corners or do we bring them to the center of our lives? We know in our hearts that in a country of our wealth and our prosperity to have so many Americans live lives of endless struggle is wrong.
America is a place that believes in ascension, that one person can rise from very little to transform this world. It comes from that eternal belief that we all have the same worth. But the best evidence of America not living up to its ideals is the more than 36 million Americans who live in poverty every day. There are children who have no real hope simply because of where theyre growing up. There are people who are working two jobs and they still cant make rent. And too many families are spending the night in shelters across this country.
OUR LEADERS today want us to believe that each of us is out there on our own. If you make it, thats your success. If you dont, thats your failure.