When most people think about the outset of August in Washington, they think of tourists pouring in before school starts, lobbyists skipping town and congressional staffers enjoying long lunches at Capitol Hill watering holes.
While these elements of August will forever be fixtures to a Washington summer, it's important to view the month-long visits by members of Congress to their districts in another light. August should serve as a great opportunity for members of the House and Senate to hear firsthand about the problems facing their constituents.
With six in 10 Americans believing that the economy is getting worse, this opportunity to listen is more important than ever.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), at a recent event sponsored by Hillsdale College and YG Network, hit the nail on the head: "[Economic] insecurity has coiled itself around people from all walks of life." If we are going to get back on track, it's critical that other lawmakers listen as the American people identify which pocketbook worries keep them up at night.
Take access to higher education, for instance. For millions of Americans, sending the next generation to college is a part of the American Dream. Unfortunately, that dream has become harder to reach during the Obama presidency because of the smothering costs.
Since 2009-10, tuition and fees at a public, four-year college have skyrocketed by 26 percent. This is outrageous. Instead of addressing the root causes of tuition hikes, the left;s only answer has been to increase a family's borrowing capability. On the surface, that may appear to be a noble policy pursuit, but such a route has just encouraged institutions to raise prices.
Lawmakers will assuredly hear about the lack of high-quality jobs, as the liberal agenda has prioritized raising the minimum wage and restraining our domestic energy supply instead of broad-based economic growth.
Just last week, the Federal Reserve issued a statement on the overall economy, and their findings are disconcerting.
In a wonky and sullen analysis, the Fed noted that despite recent news about the latest GDP numbers and the unemployment rate, "a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources."
Simply put, Americans are having a hard time finding stable, good-paying employment in today's labor market.
"To restore the American Dream," Rubio contends, "we need a new policy agenda designed specifically for the 21st century."
Conservatives now have an incredible opportunity to deliver that policy agenda. Throughout the summer, YG Network's new policy book, Room To Grow, has been hailed as a manifesto that can help the middle class escape the doldrums of today's economy. Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, heralded that the book "should be required reading for free enterprise advocates and anyone who aspires to build a better world through policy."
Major economic problems like the financing of higher education and broadening economic growth won't be solved overnight (and probably not in the month of August), but the ideas found in Room To Grow can be a good starting point.
Murray is the founder, senior strategist and chairman of the board of the YG Network.