Our representatives in Washington, Democrats and Republicans alike, are letting Pennsylvania families down--and I've had just about enough of it.
Northeastern Pennsylvania has a 9% unemployment rate, higher than the statewide and national averages.
In the last month, our region's U.S. House members all showed callous disregard for these facts by voting for a Defense Appropriations bill that would cut almost $2 billion from the largest single employer in our corner of the state, Tobyhanna Army Depot, putting potentially thousands of local jobs at risk.
This is not a partisan political issue--this is a northeastern Pennsylvania issue, and we simply must save Tobyhanna, which has an annual economic impact approaching $2 billion and supports 5,000 local jobs.
Despite these facts, Reps. Marino (R), Barletta (R) and Holden (D), all ignored the people back home and cast a reckless, callous vote. Tobyhanna has been recognized as a center for manufacturing excellence and as a critical nerve center for all branches of our armed forces. Having this facility in our region is an honor, and it is truly embarrassing that our representatives failed to recognize and protect this installation.
That is why I am proposing the following 5-piece plan to create good American manufacturing jobs like the ones at the Depot in Pennsylvania and across our country, to help us grow all sectors of the economy going forward.
First, we've got to save Tobyhanna and focus on rebuilding America's manufacturing base.
We need both U.S. Senators Casey and Toomey to push hard to restore Tobyhanna's funding to the bill in conference committee--Senator Casey has stepped up already, but Senator Toomey now needs to join him publicly.
We should create a Made in America tax break to help keep manufacturing jobs here and crack down on companies shipping jobs overseas to countries like China.
Second, we should simplify the tax code and reduce the regulatory burdens on businesses. The Small Business Administration says regulations are a $1.75 trillion annual drag on the economy. We can no longer afford to hamstring our job creators in this way any more.
Let's also encourage innovation itself by extending the federal research and development tax credit and making sure our public schools, research universities and community colleges are able to educate and train a true 21st Century workforce, especially in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Third, a modern transportation and energy infrastructure is a requirement for both businesses and communities to grow.
People from both parties agree that roads, bridges and rail systems make large-scale economic growth possible and need to be updated, which will create good jobs in the short term and stronger growth in the long term.
Similarly, clean energy alternatives like renewable energy and natural gas along with a smart power grid will be critical to the next century of job creation, economic growth, conservation and environmental sustainability.
And when we make infrastructure investments, the federal government must "Buy American."
Finally, we need to continue opening markets abroad where our manufacturers, businesses and innovators can sell their world-leading goods and services--but only on a level playing field, because American workers and businesses alike will outcompete anyone in a fair fight.
That's why we need to make sure nations like China are not unfairly manipulating their currency or using unlawful sweatshop labor to illegally or unjustly undercut American competitors.
None of these solutions are partisan, but we need to get going for the sake of Pennsylvania families and our economy.