For much of the past year, the Republican Party has been doing its best to scare people. Its electoral strategy was dependent on people feeling that we are a nation in decline. The GOP knew that the only way it would do well was by making people feel bad about America.
The problem with that strategy? America is not a nation in decline. In fact, after staring into the abyss, we've come roaring back with a vengeance. Our economy is stronger today than it has been in over a decade.
America is in a better place today because we fought hard for our values and refused to give up in the face of relentless opposition. Just look at the facts.
Our economy is experiencing its fastest pace of growth in over a decade. The GDP rose to 5.0% in the third quarter of this year, and the deficit has been cut by two-thirds under President Obama, according to Treasury Department figures.
More Americans are getting back to work. We are in the midst of the longest stretch of private sector job growth on record, with nearly 11 million jobs added over 57 straight months, according to the Council of Economic Advisers.
In November, we saw the highest single month of job creation in nearly three years, and 2014 has already been the strongest year for job growth since 1999. And we are not only creating more jobs, but better-paying jobs -- wages are up and higher-paying industries are adding workers.
The American people are also saving money at the pump. In fact, the United States is now the world's number one producer of oil and natural gas, and gas prices are headed to their lowest level in 11 years -- a decrease that is expected to save American families $550 next year.
Americans recognize the progress. They know that these numbers are more than statistics, they are signs of our nation's resurgence. The number of Americans who think that now is a good time to find a quality job is back to pre-recession levels, and we are heading into the new year with consumer confidence at a seven-year high.
These are the accomplishments of a President who is fighting every day to make life better for American families and a Democratic Party that is fighting right alongside him.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said about today's Republican Party. Its year consisted of partisan opposition and unprecedented obstruction at every turn. While Democrats fought for economic policies that benefited middle-class families, Republicans continued to fight for the wealthiest and most fortunate among us while pushing policies that leave the middle class behind, or worse, stick them with the bill.
Republicans in the 113th Congress should take a step back and look at what they actually spent their year doing: forcing a government shutdown that cost our economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs, according to the Council of Economic Advisers; attempting to sue the President at the taxpayers' expense simply because he was doing his job; voting to block equal pay for women and against a minimum wage increase that would help ensure that Americans working full time do not have to raise their families in poverty.
The GOP has also voted repeatedly, and unsuccessfully—more than 50 times! -- to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, even though it is providing quality, affordable health care to millions, the uninsured rate has reached a near historic low, and health care spending is slowing down.
As elected representatives, we must continue to ask ourselves: Are we doing all we can to help the American people? Are we working to move our country forward and are we putting what is best for our constituents above all else? While we know there is so much more work to do, this year, Democrats can confidently answer yes to each of these questions. Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle most certainly cannot.
In 2015, Democrats will continue to fight for more well-paying jobs, for a living wage for all Americans, for equal pay for women, for investments in our children's education, for state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology, for a cleaner planet, and for safer streets. While reflection is important, we also must keep our eyes on the horizon. There is so much more we need to do in the year ahead.
Unfortunately, we can expect the GOP to continue to fight against us, to continue to try to roll back progress. Republican leadership has already been clear about what they plan to do next: They will try to restrict women's access to reproductive health care, attempt to take health care away from millions of Americans with yet another vote to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and continue to push redundant hearings, lawsuits, threats and other stunts that do nothing to serve the people that elected them.
The American people deserve better.