Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WITH MORE than 12 million Americans unemployed and a national debt on pace to top $16 trillion this year, the problems facing our future are very clear — and, regardless of party affiliation, cannot be ignored or “spun.” Americans deserve to know that Congress has a plan to get our economy back on track.
Unfortunately, the Obama-Casey economic agenda has left far too many Pennsylvanians without work and created a culture of dependency on the federal government, and it leaves little hope of future prosperity. In fact, President Obama and his administration imposed more than 75 new major regulations in the first 26 months in office, costing nearly $50 billion in taxpayer dollars. That’s more than any other president in the history of our nation.
Regrettably, U.S. Sen. Robert Casey of Scranton has stood with the president on far too many of these. At a time when an alarming number of hardworking Americans are receiving an unemployment check instead of a paycheck, Sen. Casey seems to be in lock step with the campaigner-in-chief, President Obama.
Late last year, the Environmental Protection Agency advocated for even more job-killing regulations on the emissions from power plants through another burdensome regulation, a new Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule.
The estimated cost of the EPA’s regulation to ratepayers will exceed $21 billion annually, or an average increase of 6.5 percent. Areas that rely on coal-fired electricity are threatened by as much as a 19 percent hike in cost. Even worse, the rule is regressive, harming lower-income Americans he hardest. It has been estimated that taxpayers who make less than $50,000 a year will pay roughly 21 percent of after-tax income on energy, compared to 9 percent for those making more.
Furthermore, we know the Utility MACT rule will force many coal-fired plants across Pennsylvania to close because the cost of compliance is too high. In March, five coal-fired power plants in our state announced they were closing due to the burdensome regulations from the Obama administration. Where was Sen. Casey in denouncing this rule when the plants announced their plans to close?
These closures will lead directly to the loss of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania and hundreds of thousands across the United States. Making matters worse, millions of homes and businesses will be footing the bill, as it will cost even more to accommodate their energy needs. Some estimates suggest that more than 1.4 million jobs could be lost as an effect of higher energy costs. Again, while the estimates of higher costs have been made public, Sen. Casey has stood silent.
There is hope to defeat this job-killing regulation. The Senate will have an opportunity to do what we know is right for the commonwealth by passing S.J Res. 37, introduced by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. This is a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which allows the resolution to bypass the procedural hurdles and pass the Senate with a simple majority.
This is the only chance to repeal and replace another Obama economic regulation that threatens the jobs of hardworking Americans throughout our state and country. Sen. Inhofe is not alone. More than 10 organizations representing more than 50,000 employees, 30 county commissioners and 80 state legislators in Pennsylvania have voiced support of S.J. Res. 37.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Zionsville also has advocated strong support of the measure. Sadly, his colleague, Sen. Bob Casey, has not echoed Sen. Toomey’s opposition to the job-killing Utility MACT regulations. Hopefully, he will support this, and I am asking him to do so.
Americans deserve a reliable, affordable and abundant source of domestic energy, and the future success of our economy demands it. Instead Sen. Casey’s silence only reaffirms what I fear, which is he places the president and party politics ahead of the hardworking Pennsylvanians he represents.
Tom Smith, a Republican from Armstrong County, is a candidate for U.S. Senate.
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