I have always believed that elections are about choices and that choices are about values and that our values are shaped in part by the future we leave our children and grandchildren.
My father came to this country with nothing but the hope of someday realizing the American dream. More than 45 years later, his grandchildren work in the family farming business he built in Santa Maria.
Our family has been able to realize the American dream, but that opportunity is still out of reach for too many U.S. families.
Why? Because Washington isn't working.
Everywhere you look, unemployment lines are growing, businesses large and small are closing their doors and products that used to be made in America are now made anywhere but America.
In recent weeks, I have been able to visit with small businesses throughout the Central Coast to hear firsthand how Washington is hurting their ability to create jobs and expand.
They tell me that Capitol Hill has unleashed a regulatory tsunami that has suffocated their ability to grow.
A report released by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office found that federal regulatory costs total $1.8 trillion each year. As a former small-business owner, I understand how unnecessary and burdensome regulations can have a stifling effect on employers' ability to hire and grow.
Central Coast businesses tell me that the only way they can survive and compete in a global economy is to leave the region and outsource manufacturing operations to India or China.
They tell me that Washington's belief that "they didn't build" their own companies is backwards thinking that has sent the signal to private enterprise that America is closed for business.
At the heart of our nation's economic challenges is the mindset coming out of Washington that private enterprise doesn't create jobs; government does.
Washington's policies have resulted in 42 consecutive months of U.S. unemployment above 8 percent.
The Associated Press reported that more than 146 million Americans are either considered low-income or below the poverty line. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says almost 24 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed or have just given up looking for work.
Perhaps the biggest concern I have is about the impact that this job drought is having on U.S. families and our children.
In June, the U.S. Census Bureau released a staggering figure: 15.8 million adult children live with their parents, and 5.5 million of them are between 25 and 34 years old. For individuals between 16 and 19 years of age, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the unemployment rate at 23.8 percent.
So our children who have graduated from high school or who have mortgaged their futures to attend institutes of higher education are now faced with an economy where they can't even find jobs.
And that's the fundamental question confronting our nation right now: How do we create jobs?
I believe it starts with the recognition that private enterprise, not the government, creates jobs.
Businesses large and small need more certainty in the tax code and less regulations coming out of Washington.
We need to lower the personal and business tax rate and make America a place that welcomes innovation and supports entrepreneurship and doesn't demonize success.
The truth of the matter is that Washington's failures are hurting our children's prospects. A child born today should have the same path to opportunity that my dad had.