WAYNESBURG – Pat Toomey, the junior Republican U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania, made it clear Tuesday at a town meeting at Waynesburg University that he believes the economy is being weighed down by excessive regulations that hold back any chance of a robust recovery.
“My view is after a severe recession, we historically have always had a strong recovery,” the Lehigh Valley senator said. “Within a few years, we have regained all lost ground, created all missing jobs and restored the level of prosperity prior to the recession. We are not observing that pattern this time.”
Toomey, who was elected to his senate seat in November 2010, defeating his Democratic opponent, retired Admiral and Congressman Joe Sestak, said the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” will do nothing but hurt the economy.
“I call it my exhibit A,” he said. “The Congressional Budget Office has said that within 10 years, if the bill stays in place, it will cost the economy 2.5 million jobs. Small- to medium-sized employers are already experiencing a detrimental effect by freezing hiring and cutting back employee hours.”
But smothering regulations extend beyond health care, he said. “The Environmental Protection Agency is way too aggressive. The administration and the EPA are not only hostile to the coal industry and coal-fired power plants, but to industrial America generally.”
Toomey referred to these regulations as incremental progress at a great cost. “This is just out of balance. Coal-fired power plants are being forced to close and new regulations are designed to prevent new coal-fired power plants.”
As a member of the Finance; Banking; Budget; and Joint Economic committees, Toomey said excessive government regulations are making it difficult for employers to hire and create jobs.
“Federal red tape is imposing burdensome, unfunded mandates on local cities, townships and counties,” Toomey said. “Small businesses and farmers are struggling to comply with new directives from overreaching agencies. Government waste, fraud and abuse continue eating up taxpayer dollars at a time when many households across Pennsylvania are watching every penny they spend.”
Toomey also spoke to the audience of about 40 people on several other issues he is addressing.
“First are veterans’ issues. We have a very large number of men and women coming back from active duty and we have huge problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs,” he said. “There is an unacceptable high unemployment rate among veterans, but these folks have learned terrific skills, learned team work, are patriotic people and would be a great asset to any business.”
Toomey said he wants veterans’ skills matched with opportunities available in the economy. Toomey added he is urging the Department of Labor to develop a website to list openings to enable a veteran to find a match whenever he or she goes to that website.
“Veterans often get skill sets and certifications while in the service, such as large equipment operators,” he said. “But the certification is issued by the Army, which is a different certification required by the labor department in the states. We need to get passed that.”
He also said he is pushing the federal government make an aggressive and concerted effort to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. “It is a devastating disease and it basically affects everybody. It is 100 percent fatal, and we don’t know what causes it, let alone have a cure for it.”
Finally, the senator’s agenda includes protecting children from predators.
“I am dismayed to discover the gaps in the screening process to prevent kids from coming into contact with violent or sexually abusive predators,” he said.
Toomey said he sponsored a bill that would require a more thorough background check before school districts hire anybody who has unsupervised contact with kids.
“Since January 1 of this year, 275 teachers have been arrested across America for sexual misconduct with children. That is more than one for each day of the year. And 17 of those were Pennsylvania teachers,” he said.
“Arrests only occur when we know about the charges and have the evidence to prosecute. There are other cases, of course, and we know of some instances where school officials learned of sexual abuse by a teacher and they not only failed to report it, but also helped the predator be quietly reassigned.It’s called passing the trash and it is all too common. It cost a 12-year-old boy his life. A school in Delaware County quietly dismissed a teacher for molesting several children. But instead of acting to stop the predator, the school helped him land a new job in West Virginia, where he eventually sexually assaulted and murdered the boy.”