Op-Ed: Challenges Facing Our Community In The New Decade
As we enter a new decade, there are many challenges that our nation continues to face. Issues such as economic recovery, unemployment, access to affordable health care, and rebounding from the housing crisis are on the minds of many Americans.
While families and businesses throughout the country have suffered greatly as a result of the economic downturn, the state of Ohio has been particularly hard hit. The loss of businesses and the jobs, benefits, and tax revenues associated with them have impacted communities throughout Southwest Ohio. The rise in unemployment and declining home values has caused many neighborhoods across southwest Ohio to have increased numbers of abandoned homes. The loss in tax revenue associated with this decline affects many of the public safety and education programs that make our communities stronger.
While local officials are finding creative ways to adjust to the revenue decline, Congress continues to charge up the government debit card with massive federal spending, further driving our nation into debt. The Majority continues to push forward with their plans to tax and spend, passing the debt on to future generations. I have consistently voted against unreasonable increases to the federal budget.
I opposed the $700 billion bailout of our nation's financial industry, and voted against the $800 billion economic stimulus package. I believe these bills did nothing to help those who have suffered the most due to job loss and home foreclosures, and lacked details and oversight as to how the tax dollars would be spent. This type of government spending rewarded Wall Street's reckless behavior and thus far has done little to help most American families while substantially increasing the national debt.
Further compounding the impact of the economic downturn on American families is the issue of affordable health care. The majority party in Congress has proposed a costly and risky government takeover of the health care sector, which represents one-sixth of our nation's economy. Most Americans agree that our current system can be improved. They also agree, however, that a less costly, step-by-step approach is a better way to achieve our shared goals of improving access while reducing costs.
I support a common sense approach to health reform that includes prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, allowing small businesses and individuals to pool coverage, offering the ability to establish tax-free health savings accounts, and reducing excessive litigation through tort reform. These are the kinds of responsible reforms that will go a long way toward lowering the cost of health care while increasing access, without risking the financial livelihood of future generations.
An essential component of restoring our nation's economy is addressing the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. In 2008, over 6,200 home foreclosures were reported across Ohio's Third Congressional District -- a three-fold increase from a decade ago. This includes 4,091 foreclosures in Montgomery County, 1,558 in Warren County, 351 in Highland County, and 287 in Clinton County. It stands to reason that 2009 data will prove even grimmer.
Last year, I joined my colleagues in Congress to support legislation funding the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. This program was created to help stabilize communities that have been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. NSP offers funding to states, local governments, nonprofits and a consortium of nonprofit entities for the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed and abandoned homes and residential properties. This program can help rebuild our neighborhoods and restore property values.
There is no doubt that this is a critical time for our community as we enter into the new decade and address these challenges. I will continue to work with our local, state, and federal officials on behalf of the citizens of Ohio's Third Congressional District. Together we can make progress toward addressing our concerns.