When I talk to Ohioans about their concerns, whether it is a mom from Richland County who joined me on a tele-townhall recently or an autoworker I met at a plant in Toledo last week, one issue is always at the top of the list: jobs.
The experts tell us the recession ended five years ago, but the American people still are digging out of the hole it left behind. We're living through the weakest economic recovery since World War II and a lot of folks are struggling to make ends meet.
Take the last jobs report. It's a testament to how low expectations have become that this month's jobs report was cheered by some in the media.
The unemployment rate actually rose to 6.7 percent, and only 175,000 jobs were created, far fewer than the number we need to start turning things around, and nowhere near enough to help those who have been looking for a job for months and even years. In fact, the number of long-term unemployed actually increased by 203,000 in February - significantly more than the number of new jobs created.
But these statistics only tell half the story. We are told 11 million Americans have become so discouraged, they've given up looking for work altogether.
Poverty rates have gone up and salaries have gone down, with the average family now bringing home $4,000 less than they did just five years ago.
The wealthy are doing just fine in the Obama economy. Wall Street is thriving. It's Main Street that's struggling. With paychecks down and the cost of health care, college education and a tank of gas going up, a middle-class squeeze is strangling a lot of American dreams.
What has been tried - record levels of spending heading to record levels of debt and more government, rather than more pro-growth policies to free up the private sector - hasn't worked.
Now the president wants to double down on policies we've seen fail. His budget earlier this month asked for hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending and more than $1 trillion in new, job-killing taxes.
That is not a path to prosperity. Tax and spend hasn't worked to get America moving again for the last five years of this presidency, and it won't work now.
Some have said we just have to get used to weak economic growth, that it's the "new normal." I refuse to accept that we are powerless in the face of fewer people working, smaller middle-class paychecks, bigger government, never-ending deficits and record debt piled on our kids and grandkids.
I think we need a new approach, one that puts our trust back in the American people, not in more and bigger government.
That's what the Jobs for America plan I am proposing in the U.S. Senate will do. This seven-point blueprint will help bring back opportunity, spark an economic recovery and restore to every American a shot at the American dream.
Our plan calls for common-sense reform that repeals Obamacare and replaces it with solutions that make it is easier for employers to hire while providing competition and choice to lower health care costs. It also proposes sensible spending restraint to address the record debt and deficit that are dragging down the economy and mortgaging the future of our kids and grandkids.
It includes tax reform that encourages innovation and investment in American workers and American companies, rather than projects and corporations overseas. It argues for sensible regulatory reform that makes it easier for businesses to grow and hire new workers, as well as export promotion to open new markets for job creators.
It also proposes reforms to the federal government's worker retraining programs to help give unemployed Ohioans the skills they need to fill open jobs in Ohio, and it calls for an energy policy that makes us less dependent on foreign oil and uses American resources to ensure reliable and affordable energy.
All of these proposals will help give the job market the jump start it needs so we can get our economy moving again and get Americans back in good jobs.
These are common-sense, job-creating measures, and we will fight to make them law. And when we do, I believe we'll see unemployment rates drop, we'll see incomes rise and we'll see the gap between the rich and the poor close, not because we are bringing people down, but because we are bringing people up.
And we will see that America's best days are still ahead of us.