Third, we must focus on the family. The family is the institution from which the health of the rest of society flows. I learned this from my former boss, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and it is still true.
Nothing I have accomplished I could have done without the support of my wife, Abby, my mother, Louise, my father and stepmother, Neil and Pat, my sister and brothers and indeed my whole family. Without a solid family behind you, it's so much more difficult to accomplish anything.
Our current problems are tied to the erosion of the financial security of the middle-class family. Skyrocketing healthcare costs, stagnant real wages, fewer manufacturing opportunities, heavy college debt burdens, and outrageous credit card interest have squeezed our middle-income families. We have stopped spending, investing, and buying homes and the whole economy has suffered. Yet, the relief so far focuses on big bailouts not the small household or family
business. We must improve the economy of the family in Central New York and in places like it, and then we will see the economy of the nation come back.
Finally, we must never, ever give up. As another former boss and mentor of mine, Senator Bill Bradley, once said, "Ambition is the path to success, persistence is the vehicle you arrive in."
When I was growing up, my mother lived on top of one of the steepest hills on the East Side of Syracuse. And at the end of a long school day followed by an after-school job downtown I would walk up this hill from the bus stop. Well, in the Spring this wasn't so bad, but THIS time of year, it could take some effort.
Sometimes, trudging up that icy hill, I would let my worries get the better of me. I worried that even if I got in the college of my choice, I probably wouldn't be able to afford to go. Like many young people, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life; I wasn't a star athlete or prom king or valedictorian; and the Cold War and Reagan-era deficits gave me no sense that there would be great opportunity in my future.