I always enjoy the August work period because it's a time I can travel across the state listening to Nebraskans talk about their concerns, hopes and ideas for making their lives better. For me, working in Nebraska and visiting with people all across the state is nothing new because I come home to Nebraska virtually every weekend and during congressional breaks. It's part of the job and meeting with my fellow Nebraskans is the best way to stay in touch and represent their views in Washington.
That's one reason I found an out-of-state group's rhetoric puzzling because it came on a day when I had four public speaking appearances followed by news conferences, which were announced to the media beforehand.
My travels this August criss-crossed the state, from Scottsbluff to South Sioux City, to Auburn -- from Sidney to Norfolk to Columbus, and other communities in between including Lincoln and Omaha.
As you might imagine, I get many invitations to meet with the public around the state and try to accept as many as possible. At each stop, members of the media are alerted of the speaking engagement, meeting or event, and the news conference that follows. Some of the media outlets publish my schedule prompting additional people to show up. I also post my schedule on my website.
In my travels some Nebraskans ask questions of general interest while others have specific problems that they need help cutting through bureaucratic red tape to resolve. I remember one man in Beatrice who heard the announcement on the radio and came by with a serious insurance problem which I was able to begin work on right away.
Here's a quick summary of some of the issues I've heard about this month and views I've shared with Nebraskans.
Government Spending: It must be reduced to strengthen the economy and create jobs but not on the backs of seniors. I opposed the debt ceiling plan because it put too much power in the hands of too few and delayed making spending cuts that should be done now.
I'm co-sponsoring a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution because it will make government live like Nebraska families and our own state budget system that doesn't allow deficit spending.
Put benchmarks in place to measure progress and must live up to promises made to veterans.
It's already beginning to help seniors pay prescription bills, people with young children who have pre-existing conditions and college age children can stay on their parents' plan but improvements must and will be made. All of us with insurance pay $57 billion a year for health care provided to those who don't and that's a cost that will all but disappear under the health reform law.
I also heard about efforts in our state to help returning veterans find good jobs, rehabilitate young people from injuries, teach new nurses to ease the national shortage, some needs for the next farm bill and ways we can improve education.
The August work period is time well spent traveling the state, but it is no replacement for constant contact throughout the year. I urge all Nebraskans to stay in touch through mail, emails and social media. I do pay personal attention to your messages and respond as quickly as possible.