Huffington Post

Times are tough. Most Americans are experiencing the greatest financial crisis of their lifetimes and many are still struggling to find work. In times like these, it is easy to despair.

Instead of supporting legislation to solve the jobs crisis, right-wing pundits and politicians are encouraging this gloom by claiming America is in "decline."

These critics are cynical and wrong. Great crises have historically forged great leaders, and this one is no exception. President Obama's American Jobs Act is our country's opportunity to seize today's moment, and put our country back to work.

Along with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I listened to thousands of Americans this summer during the Speakout for Good Jobs Now! tour. Americans' message was consistent: times are tough, but we have hope.

Time and time again, our leaders have used progressive policies to help America get back on its feet. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln built the First Transcontinental Railroad to connect Americans from coast to coast. After World War II, America's national debt was higher as a percentage of GDP than now; yet, Dwight D. Eisenhower knew we needed an Interstate Highway System. And of course, our social safety net was born during the Great Depression. Because of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's leadership during a time of crisis, millions of Americans can now count on Social Security to protect them during retirement. President Obama knows this. Americans want action based on America's can-do spirit.

America remains the greatest country in the world and we inspire millions struggling for freedom around the world. When the people of Libya stood up against brutal repression this summer, they waved American flags in celebration and gratitude. As the people of Egypt shape their new government, they are rightly turning to the American Constitution as a model.

So before anyone mourns the decline of America, they should look at our history. We're Americans--in times of crisis, we step up.