Dahlkemper’s “State of the Region” address

   January 26, 2010 2:09 pm    7

 

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Here is the full text of Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper’s “State of the Region” address, which aired on local television over the weekend:

Good evening, and thank you for joining me. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you directly, both as your representative in Congress, and as your fellow concerned citizen. Over the past year, our country, and our region have faced many challenges. Tonight, I’d like to discuss the work we’ve done in the past year to help correct the mistakes that brought us to this point. And I’d like to share with you my vision for our region, one that I view with optimism, and see as full of potential.

When I took office just one year ago, our economy was on the brink of collapse.  Retirement savings were lost, and many people were losing their jobs and their homes at an alarming pace. This was the culmination of failed policies that resulted in a decade some are now calling “The Lost Decade.” We have only begun to quantify the lost opportunities of the 2000s. Our country had zero net job growth over the past 10 years, compared to net job growth in the United States of 20% or higher in every decade since the 1940s. Our median household income decreased by four percent in the 2000s; the only negative growth in income we’ve had since those figures were first kept in the 1960s.

For those, like me, who were new to Congress, a great responsibility was placed upon us by the events leading to this economic fallout; failing to act would have been like surrendering to years of poor economic leadership, both from Wall Street and from Washington.

It was imperative to take immediate and decisive action, or risk letting our country slip into another Great Depression. Economists across the political spectrum agreed we needed to infuse the economy with the necessary resources to create economic stability and avoid falling into a depression.

We chose to take action in a time of emergency, and passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly referred to as the economic stimulus package.

Thanks to this legislation, we prevented an economic meltdown and are now on the path to stability. Businesses have begun to increase employees’ working hours—which means bigger paychecks for our working families—and some are also beginning to hire.  The stock market has rebounded, and gross domestic product, or GDP, is growing at a steady rate.

The most encouraging sign of our economic recovery comes from our manufacturing sector, which grew for the fifth consecutive month in December, reaching its highest level of growth since April of 2006. To me, this is the greatest sign that our economy is headed in the right direction. We need to return to an economy that makes tangible products; not an economy that runs on paper and Wall Street stocks. The growth of our manufacturing sector is a sign that we are moving toward sustainable economic growth.

In addition to preventing a nationwide depression, the Recovery & Reinvestment Act included $288 billion in tax cuts and benefits for millions of working families and businesses. Last month, I supported an additional $31 billion in relief to taxpayers. We delivered on our promise to cut taxes, providing relief to small businesses and to 95 percent of working families.

Moreover, the Recovery & Reinvestment Act has produced jobs and opportunities right here in our region. Crawford, Erie and Warren counties have received more than $83 million in stimulus grants alone to put our communities on the path to recovery.

In Meadville, more than $5 million dollars has been invested in transportation improvements, creating demand for workers in Crawford County.

The City of Erie Police Department was able to hire six new officers and The City of Erie School District was awarded more than $6 million which prevented layoffs of teachers and support personnel.

The Warren County Housing Authority is making vital energy improvements in public housing, saving families money when it’s time to pay the bills.

And millions of dollars has been invested across the 3rd District to improve roads and transportation, such as the bridge on I-90 over Six Mile Creek, and resurfacing parts of Route 77 and I-79 in Crawford, serving residents and commuters across the area.

This is just a sampling of the hundreds of jobs and programs that we were able to inject into our region thanks to the Recovery & Reinvestment Act. And the Act is not expired—only about one third of the funds have been distributed.  The remaining dollars should be distributed this year, providing further assistance to our region.

But this legislation was not only designed to help us through these difficult times; the Recovery and Reinvestment Act is investing in new technologies and infrastructure—the building blocks we need to create the jobs of tomorrow. Investments such as expanded broadband networks, smart energy grids, and green, efficient technologies will keep our country at a competitive advantage at the global level, and will help us create quality jobs at the local level. These are the steps we need to take to keep America on the cutting edge in the 21st century.

With the infrastructure in place to pave the road to recovery, it is imperative that we establish protections and preventative measures to ensure that this financial crisis never happens again. It is time to protect honest consumers and businesses on Main Street from the abuses and greed of Wall Street.

To that end, we instituted tough, new standards in the Credit CARD Act and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. These two bills will give consumers piece of mind and ensure that your hard-earned dollars are treated fairly by credit card companies and by Wall Street banks.

By rescuing our economy from the edge of collapse, reinvesting in our people, and establishing a stronger financial foundation, we are creating a brighter economic future for our region and our country. We are on the path to recovery, and it is not by chance or by luck. We are weathering this storm because we enacted a plan, because we were not afraid to tackle special interests, and because we were willing to challenge the status quo.

I pledge to continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our beautiful region is fully revived and returns to prosperity.

Now is the time to look ahead.

In the coming year, we must focus on creating a stronger region that offers opportunities for all. We must continue working to strengthen our job market, to help our local businesses grow and to diversify our regional economy. And we must make it our priority to tackle the national debt and return our country to fiscal responsibility.

As your representative in Congress, I will always advocate for our region’s businesses and industries. We must identify the strengths of our businesses that are already here, helping them grow and create new jobs. Companies like General Electric Transportation represent the foundation of our local economy, and we must continue to do everything we can to ensure their success.

Working with my colleagues, we were able to secure funding for Amtrak expansion, giving GE the chance to bid on 54 new energy efficient locomotives—a significant business opportunity for GE and for the workers in our region.

But our local economy cannot be reliant on one company; we must diversify to grow businesses and job opportunities in various fields.  Our community’s farms, manufacturers, technology leaders, retail and commercial services, health care providers, educators, and tourism are all vital to our future.  A diversified economy will have the strength and the resilience to help us sustain the natural ebbs and flows of the broader world economy.

That’s why I’ve led the effort to involve the 3rd District in the Tech Belt Initiative, a collaboration between Pennsylvania and Ohio to spur innovation and growth in our regional economy. Through this initiative, we can help make Western Pennsylvania a center of new technology, expanding businesses here and bringing new enterprises to our communities.

Our region is a wonderful place to build a business and a raise family. I say this with confidence, as I have done both. We are blessed with abundant natural resources and a work ethic that is second to none. Here in Western Pennsylvania, we are well-positioned to be a center of job growth and of new technology.

In the coming year, we will see new opportunities in Western Pennsylvania: a national company with a branch in Grove City has chosen our region to recruit new workers and expand their business. They know we are a community with talent.

The Kanzius Cancer Treatment Project has the potential to not only make our region a center of new medical technology, but can bring hope to cancer victims around the world.

And there is so much more: exciting bayfront development, landmark defense projects, wind energy, broadband technology, strengthening family farms—these are the types of opportunities we are cultivating in our region. Through these initiatives and the hard work of Western Pennsylvanians, we will create jobs, fortify our communities and make them a place where our children can invest in a future of their own.

To reach these goals, it is imperative we tackle our national debt so it does not burden future generations. Job creation and debt reduction go hand in hand. To control spending in the short run, we must reinstate PAYGO, the legislation that mandates that all federal spending must be paid for instead of added to our national debt. Then, we need to completely change the way we look at spending in Washington.

I am a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and a co-sponsor of both PAYGO legislation and the SAFE Commission Act. I believe it is critical that we only spend what our nation can afford.

By paying for government programs in the 1990s, the federal government built a budget surplus by the year 2000. Unfortunately, that surplus was gone within months as that fiscally responsible practice was lost under the previous administration.

Our future depends on reigning in our debt, and reinstating PAYGO is necessary to do that.  Just as you and your family cannot build up debt without thought to the consequences, the federal government cannot, either.

We also need to fundamentally change the way our federal government spends money. As our economy continues to recover and our GDP grows, we must enforce a disciplined spending system that does not balloon a massive debt for our children and grandchildren. That’s why I am a cosponsor of the SAFE Commission Act, which stands for Securing America’s Future Economy. The bill would do just that by establishing a commission system to examine our spending and our revenue, helping us enact a forward-thinking policy to take our country out of the red and put us back in the black.

This is not the first time in our nation’s history that we have built a significant debt or seen an economic downturn. And as before, we will use our resources and our ingenuity to not only survive, but succeed for generations to come.

We must not return to the policies of yesterday, the ones that brought us down this difficult road we find ourselves on today. Instead, we must invest in our people, in our businesses, and in education with an eye to the future and a vision for a brighter tomorrow.

As your Member of Congress, I share our community’s goals. First, creating jobs and strengthening our economy; next, reducing the debt; and finally, investing in education. Through these goals, we will give our children the opportunity to reach their dreams.

Western Pennsylvania is my home, and I want it to be the home of my five adult children, and two grandchildren.  I believe that by working together, with an understanding, appreciation, and vision for our region, we can return to the days of growth, opportunity and prosperity.

Thank you for joining me, and God Bless America.

–Kevin Flowers

 

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7 Responses to “Dahlkemper’s “State of the Region” address”

  1. Paygo was promised by Nancy Pelosi in her ‘The First 100 Days of a Democratic Congress” platform back in 2006. Give her a democratic majority and SHE PROMISED PAYGO, YES! That was over three YEARS ago. How did that work out, exactly?

  2. avmed quote says:

    Just today Barry H. signed into law a $1.9 trillion increase in the federal government’s borrowing limit increasing the total borrowing capacity to $14.3 trillion, a 15.3% increase. Bill, if indeed your statement is correct, then I think Barry has just ended that streak with a bang!

  3. Someone smarter than I said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If we are going to spend more money on people out of work, let’s put them to work doing something productive for the country.

  4. “By 2020, the agency estimates debt held by the public would reach $20.3 trillion, or 90% of GDP.” We are on an unsustainable path. It will never get there. Public debt of the United States: ~$8 trillion – Federal public debt ~$4.5 trillion – Intergovernmental Holdings ~$2 trillion – State and local governments. Total = ~$14.5 trillion We are already over 100% GDP.

  5. annuity says:

    The democrats might strengthen there cause if they would just change their party name to Socialist to give them some believeability. Quit trying to push socialist ideas while claiming your agenda is a better democracy. This is the land of opportunity, not the land of entitlements. Move to Europe if that is what you desire.

  6. Here’s the problem. Traders are in control of your money. If they make money (no matter how) they get a nice huge gargantuan bonus. If they don’t perform, they are fired, there is no middle ground. This is the state of the banking culture and the root of all our problems. It can be expressed with one word: greed!

  7. aarp says:

    Republicans want want failure, they want things like the insurance companies to continue to rake in billions and to keep the unwealthy at a disadvantage. The infrastructures portion was what we needed to get us going in advancing our country to come into the present but the old conservatives who want to go back to the “simpler times” (ie. slavery, and racial discrimination via lower education). Our country and everyday people need help due to bad financial policy and they are just not getting it. Who is getting it? Big business. God bless America.

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