The Dow Jones Industrial Average, one measure of the markets' pulse, stood above 13,000 in December 2007, on the eve of the recession. It dipped below 9,000 by late 2008. But at the end of 2010, the Average had bounced back to 11,500 and has been climbing.
U.S. businesses also reported record earnings last year, closing out the third quarter of 2010 at a rate of $1.659 trillion a year. That's a sea change from the start of the great recession in 2008, when the bottom fell out of corporate profits. Businesses reported earning only $1.258 trillion in 2009.
"I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. ... And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation."
Obama delivered a brief and familiar call for a bipartisan effort on immigration reform tonight. But he also singled out a desire to end the deportation of young, educated illegal immigrants, presumably those eligible for the DREAM Act, which was narrowly defeated in the last Congress.
Obama said those immigrants can "further enrich this nation."
Several nonpartisan studies have found that allowing more highly-skilled young workers to remain in or immigrate to the U.S. would benefit the economy.
In the technology and engineering fields alone, for example, nearly a quarter of all new businesses are founded by immigrants, and they account for a significant chunk of jobs. Many of these entrepreneurs came to the United States as students and stayed.
But immigration opponents say legalization of young immigrants -- regardless of their education level or military service -- could cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated late last year that one version of the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 currently undocumented aliens, would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion in the first decade because of increased tax revenue from immigrant residents.
But the same study also projects the bill could add between $5 billion and $20 billion to the deficit by 2060 through generation of additional benefit program costs.
"What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I'm not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I'm not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees."
While it's true that the Affordable Care Act bars insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, the provision for adults does not take effect until 2014. In 2010, a temporary program was created that would provide health coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions who had been uninsured for six months at the least. Also starting last year, insurance companies were prohibited from denying children with pre-existing conditions health insurance.