HAZLETON – Hazleton Mayor and Congressional candidate Lou Barletta issued the following statement on the current economic crisis.
“As I’ve traveled throughout the 11th Congressional District, meeting with the good people of northeastern Pennsylvania in recent days, the current economic crisis and the irresponsible actions that led to it are often the first things people mention to me.
“The politicians in Washington, D.C., and candidates all over the country have been falling over themselves to place blame on others and to take credit for any possible solutions. I refuse to follow their example. We need real leadership and calm heads, not press conferences and empty rhetoric.
“This nation is facing a crisis that has rocked our economic core and may in fact change the future of the American economy. As someone who started a small business and turned it into an industry leader, and as a mayor who inherited a financial crisis, I understand the need to make tough decisions and work with others to fix a crisis.
“I don’t claim to have all the answers and I do not have the benefit of Congressional hearings and a full-time research staff, but here are some of my commonsense thoughts on the crisis:
1. This crisis is not unique to one political party. Americans from all ideologies and political affiliations are feeling the crunch. We need to stop pointing fingers and start working toward solutions. Republicans and Democrats share the blame and they can share in the satisfaction of helping us out of the problem if they set aside ambition for cooperation.
2. Members of Congress need to stay in session and do their job. I realize that there is a desire to adjourn next week, but after a five-week summer break, I believe they should continue to work until an effective, sustainable plan is passed.
3. Congress should not rush to judgment. We often hear the rhetoric that the administration rushed us into war. Congress should not be pressured into making rash decisions.
4. The federal government should act to avoid any escalation in the crisis. However, any proposed ‘bailout’ should have strong requirements. The executives from companies that will benefit from federal assistance should be required to take a salary reduction. Any bonus packages due to these executives should be frozen until all federal relief funds are paid back to the taxpayers.
5. An independent commission should be established to review the actions that brought our nation to this point. Who had oversight over these industries? What legislation – or lack of legislation –precipitated these events?
6. New ethics rules should be passed to ensure members of Congress do not have their judgment clouded by campaign donations. Whether or not pay-for-play antics may have led to this crisis can be debated. But when Republican and Democrat members of Congress on oversight committees take large amounts of money from these companies and then ask the taxpayers to give huge amounts of money to the same companies to bail them out, it raises very serious questions.
“We need to restore faith in the American economy and American dollar around the world. We need to show the world that America is coming back. That the American people have the resolve missing in some of our leadership, and we will make the changes necessary to get our economy back on track.”