The nation's poverty rate is as high as it's been in almost two decades. Last year, 1 in 6 Americans was poor — more than 46 million people, including 16 million children.
But on the campaign trail, the issue of poverty has received surprisingly little attention.
When he first ran for president, Barack Obama went to a low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and spoke passionately about hunger and poverty. He repeated Bobby Kennedy's question in 1967: "How can a country like this allow it?"
Many Americans today feel like they've lost or are losing their shot at a college education because paying for it often seems out of reach. So how big of an issue is this in the presidential campaign?
Here's what President Obama has done to help families pay for college: He negotiated a deal with Congress this summer that kept the interest rate on government-backed Stafford loans from doubling for 7.5 million students.
In the next two installments of Solve This, NPR's series on the major issues facing the country, we'll examine each presidential candidate's approach to boosting employment. First, President Obama's strategy, then Mitt Romney's.
Job creation is the centerpiece of President Obama's campaign speeches.
As part of Solve This, NPR's series on major issues facing the country, we're examining the presidential candidate's approach to boosting employment. After looking at President Obama's strategy, it's time to examine the plan of GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
President Obama and Mitt Romney are both calling on the U.S. to become less dependent on foreign oil, though their plans differ. Here, workers with Bramwell Petroleum set up a derrick for a new oil well near Spivey, Kan., in March.
The pressing energy issue in the 2008 presidential campaign was how to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming. Four years later, the drive for "green energy" has been replaced by a new imperative: the need to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"I will set a national goal of North American energy independence by 2020," Mitt Romney declared during a campaign speech in August. "That means we produce all the energy we use in North America."
He reiterated that goal in the opening minutes of the presidential candidates' debate in Denver this week.