New Castle News

February 14, 2013

Area congressmen grade State of the Union address

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County’s two congressional representatives expressed disappointment at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Rep. Mike Kelly, who represents most of the county, said he agrees with the president’s call for a smarter, not bigger government.

“But his rhetoric does not match his record and one need to look no further” than the Affordable Care Act to see the administration’s effort to grow the size and scope of government.

In addition, the administration has pursued an aggressive regulatory agenda that is “strangling job growth.”

Kelly, a Republican from Butler, said he also was disappointed Obama did not outline a plan to get the nation’s debt and deficit reduction under control. The country cannot continue to tax and spend its way back to prosperity, he said.

However, Kelly did like one part of the speech: The administration’s commitment to early childhood education “and the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).”

“While I want to see specifics before commenting further, there should be bi-partisan agreement to develop an aggressive policy to pursue both of these goals.”

Rep. Keith Rothfus, who represents the southern portion of the county, said the president “once again promised a Washington-centered approach” to addressing the country’s “economic woes.”

“Unfortunately, the unprecedented growth of government spending that characterized his first term has resulted in too many Americans out of work, too many families who struggle to pay the bills, and too much debt on our children’s shoulders,” the Allegheny County Republican said.

“More taxes, more spending, more regulation and more government are not a recipe for more jobs and opportunity.”

The economy can be grown, he said, but Congress and the president “must work together to balance the budget, reform the tax code, reduce excessive government regulations and expand domestic energy production.”

Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, said he was gratified Obama had made jobs the focus of his address.

The economy has made “good progress,” but more needs to be done, he said, adding he was “particularly grateful” that the president recognized the need for investments in the manufacturing sector.

Casey said he has called for investments in manufacturing initiatives such as the Workforce Investment Act programs, Research and Development Tax Credit and the National Export Initiative.

“It is imperative that Republicans and Democrats work together on a balanced approach to reduce the deficit while making smart investments in manufacturing, education, small business and (research and development) that will continue to create jobs.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, said he disagrees with the idea “that we ought to raise taxes yet again. But if the president is willing to look at some of the areas where we can curb spending, I’d be delighted to work with him to help put us on a sustainable fiscal path.”

He said he agrees with the president that there’s a chance to generate economic growth and job creation through tax reform, and the place to start is repeal of the medical device tax.

“The medical device tax is job-crushing and costing us thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania. Repealing it would be very pro-growth.”

Noting that the president spent a lot time talking about energy, Toomey said, “We could start — really kick-starting — our energy profile by improving the Keystone Pipeline” and “creating the thousands and thousands of jobs ...”