By Steve Huszai
U.S. Congressman Jim Renacci roared his way into Wooster Thursday when he visited the Noon Lions flexing his bipartisanship and businessman approach to politics to his pride.
The former mayor, city council member, volunteer firefighter and businessman, who also is up for re-election in November, explained the problems he has seen in Washington in his 14 months on the job.
"I'm a businessman, not a politician," he said. "Washington is broken."
Renacci, who decided to enter politics after receiving a letter from General Motors telling him his car dealership would be closed in government-assisted restructuring, said there are three things everyone should know about Washington.
"Nothing ever starts on time ... no matter what the numbers you see are, it's actually much worse ... and it is very political," Renacci said. "You can't get things done right away ... you have to get people to know and trust you."
Renacci said he has attempted to reach across the aisle to Democrats to try to "get things done" and rise above politics, something he blamed both parties of doing.
His "breakfast club" of eight Democrats and eight Republicans is working to break through politics and push forward for the betterment of the country.
Renacci touted the group's major achievement, which added to the payroll tax cut extension a bill to help Americans on unemployment to get jobs and training. Companies that paid people previously on unemployment more than their unemployment was worth, and trained them, could receive up to 85 percent of the employee's unemployment as a reimbursement.
"I have a 63-year-old family member who is in good health who burned up all 99 weeks of unemployment ... let's incentivize them (to get into the job market)," Renacci said, adding that "there is some hope," to rise above politics in Washington.
The congressman also informed the Lions about business taken up by the House of Representatives and the lack of business taken up by the Senate.
"This system is one of the greatest in the world, but we need to work together," Renacci said.
After his time at the podium, Renacci fielded questions from the audience.
About the popular mantra of the day -- raising taxes on the richest citizens -- Renacci said, "We don't want the government to take anymore money until they can show they can spend what they have."
On health care: "The House has repealed every spending issue ... the Senate has not taken it up ... that machine is still going forward."
On what can be done to ease pain at the pump: "We need to open up permitting ... if speculators see more supply coming, the price will begin to come down," he said, specifically stating the Keystone Pipeline should be opened, along with drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore.
And on redistricting: "Wayne County is still 100 percent in my district (the 16th District) ... but I have picked up parts of Summit, Portage and Cuyahoga... the largest portion of my district is now Cuyahoga County," the congressman said. "In my home county of Medina, I actually lost parts of it. I hope I'm honored to serve another two years."