Three candidates are vying for the 16th District seat in the U.S. House of Representative. The district includes most of Medina County, parts of Ashland County and all of Wayne and Stark counties.
Republican Ralph Regula retired in 2009 after serving 18 consecutive terms. Incumbent Democrat John Boccieri, of Alliance, was elected to replace him and is running for a second two-year term. Two Wadsworth residents, Republican Jim Renacci, formerly the city’s mayor, and Libertarian Jeffrey Blevins, also are campaigning for the seat.
Q: What is your strategy to bring jobs to Northeast Ohio?
Blevins: Every dollar not paid in taxes is a dollar free to flow through the free market system. As money enters into the free market system, it promotes business growth and job creation. Reducing taxes on Americans will allow consumers and investors to fuel our economy.
To do this we must reduce spending at the federal level to allow for across-the-board tax cuts for all American taxpayers.
Boccieri: In order to bring jobs to the district in the short term, we provide our small businesses access to capital with public and private lending, and tax credits to employers for hiring people back like we’re doing with the HIRE Act, which is now law, and was based on my legislation. We also close tax loopholes that allow corporations to send jobs offshore and support clean energy policies that create jobs that cannot be outsourced.
Renacci: In the two years that have passed since my opponent, Mr. Boccieri, was elected to Congress, the unemployment rate in the 16th District has nearly doubled, exceeding 14 percent in some areas. Over 600,000 Ohioans are currently out of work, and nationally, we are witnessing the highest long-term unemployment rate in history.
Although government itself cannot create jobs, government can and must create an environment that fosters job growth by infusing predictability and certainty back into the marketplace.
In Congress, I will work to infuse certainty and predictability back into the marketplace through four core policy initiatives: reduce and simplify our tax burden; cap spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product; repeal and replace the Obama-Pelosi health care bill; and kill the cap and trade legislation that threatens to wipe out 80,000 Ohio jobs.
Q: What is your position on privatizing Social Security?
Blevins: Any changes we make in the current system must be done without endangering the full benefits of those who currently depend upon it. However, to provide the best retirement opportunities for future generations, we must allow for individuals to decide what’s best for them. By privatizing Social Security in a metered approach, we can get government out of the way and allow families to accumulate real wealth— wealth that can be passed down from generation to generation and used to break the cycle of poverty that too many Americans have long endured.
By privatizing Social Security, we take the personal decision of how to save for one’s future out of Congress and place it back on the kitchen table— back where it should be.
Boccieri: Social Security is a vital program that helps more than 2 million beneficiaries here in Ohio with more than $2 billion per month in Social Security payments. It must be protected and preserved. I oppose privatizing Social Security and efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher program like congressional Republicans wish to do in their alternative budget proposal.
Renacci: I am strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security and I deeply believe in the need to maintain a strong and viable Social Security safety net for America’s seniors. That said, there is no question the federal government must implement reforms to address the growing fiscal crisis that is facing the Social Security balance sheet.
As a result of our skyrocketing unemployment, in 2010 the Social Security system reached a tipping point for the first time in history where the number of individuals receiving benefits from the program outnumbers those who are paying into the system.
The double-digit unemployment rate combined with the raiding of the Social Security Trust Fund to finance the massive expansion of government since 2008, has created a “perfect storm” that has rapidly accelerated the fiscal crisis facing the system.
Congress must act to address these most imminent threats to the system by eliminating deficit spending and enacting pro-growth policies to revive our economy.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing Northeast Ohio?
Blevins: Reckless federal spending is the largest issue facing all Americans. The current spending habits threaten our nation’s fiscal strength and solvency. If left unchecked, our spending will drive up inflation and taxes while driving down our standard of living. We must rein in federal spending and downsize our government.
Boccieri: The biggest issues facing our district include putting people back to work, keeping them on the job and protecting their retirement benefits. We do this by giving tax breaks to businesses like we did with the stimulus and the new health insurance reform law, renegotiating our unfair trade pacts, and protecting benefits like Social Security and Medicare from efforts to privatize them.
Renacci: The single greatest challenge facing Northeast Ohio is the economic malaise and crippling unemployment that has defined the past two years.
Although my opponent contends the trillion-dollar “stimulus” bill has been a “success,” I believe the 600,000 Ohioans who remain out of work, as well as the 95,000 Americans who lost their jobs last month alone, would disagree with that assessment— as do I.
In order to revitalize Northeast Ohio’s economy, we must implement policies that give small businesses the incentive, the means and the freedom to expand.
In Congress, I will rely on my background as a small business owner and a certified public accountant to help drive our economic policy and to instill bottom line, business- based principles to our government. By employing those principles in local government as a mayor, I successfully balanced our city’s budget and created jobs without raising taxes, and now I’m ready to take on the budget in Washington.