The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

August 23, 2013

Toomey talks issues over lunch

Jobs, health care, deficits on menu

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and some of his constituents talked about the issues of the day during a legislative lunch Thursday at Park Inn by Radisson, Shenango Township.

The session sponsored by six area chambers of commerce from Mercer and Lawrence counties as well as Penn Northwest Development Corp., covered such topics as federal spending and budget deficits, jobs and the economy, health care, regulation, tort reform, medical liability and others.

Toomey, whose last local visit was in Grove City last year, was making his first visit to the Shenango Valley as senator since the Republican was elected three years ago.

“I’m all about economic development,” Toomey told the gathering of some 70 lunch guests mostly from business, industry, government and social service agencies.

“I’m all about making the policy changes needed so we can reach our potential in our woefully underperforming economy.”

Toomey serves on the finance, budget, banking and joint economic committees.

Controlling federal spending is high on the action list, he said, citing an expected deficit of $500 billion for the current fiscal year.

Toomey blamed Obama administration policies for the lagging pace of growth since the 2008 recession ended. He cited “excessive regulation that imposes costs on employers” as well as the Dodd-Frank Act, legislation aimed at financial reform that Toomey said reduces lenders’ willingness to issue housing loans.

“We would have the bounce back and growth in jobs that we have always had after other recessions if we had the right policies,” Toomey said.

Controlling spending is a daunting task, he said, citing the Affordable Care Act – dubbed “Obamacare” by the law’s opponents – as an example of how hard it can be to cut funding as a tactic to slow the implementation of the law.

“I think the immediate thing to do is to defund Obamacare and then work on what comes next,” said Michelle Zolnier, a Social Security-age retiree from Hermitage.

That’s not so easily done, Toomey said, because as much as 85 percent of health care funding comes not directly through the health care law but through Social Security and other federal programs.

Unpopular as the health care law may be in some quarters, changes it has brought are a welcome improvement to many, including women, Becky McFadden, of Greenville said.

McFadden heads the board of AWARE, the nonprofit that deals with domestic and sexual violence, but said she wasn’t  speaking on behalf of the organization.

She cited coverage examples important to women, such as pregnancy, annual mammograms, contraception of all types for all women and coverage of college age children up to age 26. Those benefits often were not available under health insurance plans before  the health care law required them to be offered, McFadden said.

Toomey said he favors individual ownership of health care plans with tax-deductible premiums as the way for people to buy plans that include coverages they want.

“Those might be important benefits to you but not to someone else,” he said.

Toomey got a thank-you for his support of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

He had earlier opposed the law but advocacy groups for women were successful in changing his mind last year and he voted to renew the law that provides funding for a crucial local program, said Lizette Olsen, executive director of AWARE.

“Because of funding under that law we were able to serve 1,500 victims,” Olsen said. “We were able to build a closer relationship with police agencies and we have a dedicated investigator at the county level.”

The three-year Mercer County STOP grant renewal she described provides $125,000 a year in funding for services, training, officers and prosecution of offenders.

Mercer County Commissioner John Lechner noted the slow pace of efforts to replace the Ohl Street bridge in Greenville as an example of regulations that he said are more harmful than helpful.

A lengthy state review to determine if the bridge has historic value is one reason it has been closed for four years while the county tries to replace it, he said.

Toomey told Lechner and others at the lunch that they should contact his office for help and he and his staff will do what they can to help them work through problems.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 18, 2014

    ‘Nonspecific threat’ prompts evacuation

    Supreme Court refuses to hear couple’s appeal

    Lung Association offering free radon test kits

    April 18, 2014

  • Man admits to choking; rape case is dropped

    A Greenville man on Thursday pleaded down a rape case to simple assault and continued to deny that he committed any sexual crimes.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge issues tabletop ads injunction against couple

    A judge recently handed down an injunction prohibiting a Sharon man, his wife and two companies associated with the wife from working in the tabletop advertising business within 100 miles of Sharon.

    April 18, 2014

  • Tech waste eyed for new contact

    The current Hermitage solid waste contract was designed to increase recycling while reducing the amount of garbage placed at the curb, and it has lived up to its promise.

    April 18, 2014

  • WaterFire Rekindled

    WaterFire Sharon has chosen themes for its festivals to be held on three Saturdays in downtown Sharon. “Elements” will be the theme July 19, “Origins” for Aug. 23 and “Motion” for the Sept. 27 celebration.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from April 17, 2014

    Man arrested for running from accident scene

    UPMC, Southwest eyeing security at hospital

    Crashes cause diversion of Interstate 80 traffic

    Court supports prison term in chase case

    Woman gets 5-10 years in crash that killed officer

    April 17, 2014

  • Officials pledge support to sewer project

    Publicly declaring their intention to donate county land to the Upper Neshannock Watershed Authority, Commissioners Matt McConnell and John Lechner said there’s no need for Commissioner Brian Beader to worry about the loss of the sewer project at the Interstate 80/Route 19 interchange.

    April 17, 2014

  • Griswold Avenue fire Neighbors tried to save victim

    As flames and thick smoke poured out of a Sharon house Tuesday evening, neighbors rallied to try and save the man who lived there alone.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woman nabbed, sister sought in assault

    Southwest Mercer County Regional police have arrested a Hermitage woman for breaking into a home in Farrell and beating a woman and are seeking the alleged assailant’s sister.

    April 16, 2014

  • Despite good deeds, man going back to prison

    Linda K. Kretzer had nothing but praise for Raymond C. McKelvey.

    April 16, 2014

  • 15-year-old legal battle returning to county court

    State Supreme Court has let stand a Superior Court decision sending a landmark medical malpractice case back to Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

    April 16, 2014

  • Southwest mulls how to adopt study points

    Even though some members of the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department had little respect for a study of the department completed by a consultant, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. pledged to implement as many of the study’s recommendations as he could.

    April 16, 2014

  • Beader plans to resign, just not yet

    Democratic Mercer County Commissioner Brian Beader acknowledges that he intends to resign, but said nothing will happen until after he meets privately with the county’s judges next Thursday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Wildlife fund for park Aiding Buhl Farm animals

    Some of Steven Jubelirer’s fondest memories of his mother, Natalie, was when they would walk together in Buhl Farm park, Hermitage.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • News briefs from April 15, 2014

    Man charged with attack on his wife in Walmart

    Woman arrested for stabbing man with knife

    3 injured in pickup-motorcycle crash

    April 15, 2014