Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Latta: regulation, Obamacare, energy top issues
By William Kincaid
CELINA - In the 450 meetings U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, has had in the last 18 months with his constituents, the same issues are discussed - regulations, Obamacare and energy.
"I hear the same thing over and over and over," Latta said during a sit-down interview with the newspaper this week. "Regulatory is number one. We have $1.8 trillion of regulations out there now ... so businesses are trying to figure out how they're going to comply with that."
The Fifth District Congressman made stops at Ergo Desktop, Mercer Landmark and other businesses while in Mercer County on Monday.
Latta said hearing people in Washington refer to northern Ohio as the Rust Belt is akin to fingernails raking across a chalkboard. They need to schedule a visit, he said.
"It's absolutely amazing the technology (in manufacturing plants)," he said. "The skill set that people have to have to be able to work in our plants today is just absolutely amazing from 10, 15, 20 years ago ... these are highly technical."
And those manufacturing plants and their 60,000 employees need to have affordable and reliable electricity, 78 percent of which is generated by coal-fired plants and threatened by new EPA regulations, Latta said, echoing statements he made at the Midwest Electric Co-op Owners for Political Action on Monday morning.
"There's the East Coast and the West Coast and us, and we're out here farming, we're out here manufacturing, and we've got to have the power," he said.
The powers of the EPA can be scaled back two ways, Latta said, - the election of a new president in 2016 or the calling of a Congressional Review Act to force a vote on any regulation.
"Now the problem is the Senate won't do anything," he said.
Latta also discussed new jobs from the burgeoning natural gas industry and the proposed Keystone pipeline that he says would help America achieve energy independence.
"Our fight is that we've got to keep jobs here ... people don't realize, in some of these places in Washington, that we actually create jobs because of energy."
For example, Latta said a company within his district creates a specific type of implement used in natural gas production, adding 15 jobs and expanding the factory.
The pipeline would bring additional energy and jobs to America through the refinement of oil but the Canadians are getting upset about delays and may run the line toward eastern Canada, bypassing the United States, Latta said.
"(Then) the $7 billion project stays in Canada. The jobs stay in Canada," Latta said.
Canada is a huge trading partner with the United States and for every $1 sent there, 90 cents comes back, Latta said.
"I don't think there's any place we can get a better deal," he said.
Latta rebutted arguments that construction jobs associated with the project would be temporary, pointing out that all construction projects are temporary.
The trade unions want the pipeline to proceed because they're looking at their brothers and sisters out there that are going to have good employment, Latta said.
"But all of a sudden if these people don't have employment, they start drifting apart, and we have no construction out there," he said.
Latta also talked about Obamacare, noting that businesses are forgoing plans to expand to stay under the 50- employee minimum of the health reform act.
"We're just going to pray that the United States Senate switches this time (or) something else happens before the next deadline date comes up," Latta said. "Again, the law is stifling employment and stifling companies from going forward."
Obamacare also is costing some of Latta's constituents dearly.
"We got a lot of calls from folks like farmers," he said. "They were paying $350 a month for a family of four and their premium came through $1,100 a month."
And U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not allow any amendments to the act, Latta said.
"He refuses to change anything, and I'm not sure how long it's going to take before the Democrats in the Senate finally have to rebel because they have multiple seats over there that are in jeopardy," Latta said.
Latta represents Celina, Mendon and Rockford in Mercer County, as well as sections of Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot counties.