Bedford — As The Morning Call’s Scott Kraus reported, Sen. Pat Toomey has been keeping himself busy this week touring the state. He saw the county commissioners in Hershey Tuesday, headed over to Lehigh Valley to discuss a federal government crackdown on cigar protection and later held a press conference on the subject in Bethlehem.
Wednesday morning, Toomey stopped at the Bedford County Development Association, where the keyword of the day was regulation – specifically, how there is too much of it.
The Senator said the stop in Bedford was a great opportunity for local business leaders to discuss their concerns about impediments placed on them by the federal government.
“I heard almost everybody concerned about over-regulation, new regulation, regulations that drive up costs,” Toomey said. “There’s real concern about Obamacare…that clearly is making health care much more expensive for employers to provide for their workers.”
Toomey met with about a half dozen business leaders from the area, including the presidents or managers of groups like Crosscounty Mortgage, Inc., StelTek Graphics; consultant engineering firm Gatter & Diehl, Inc.; industrial production materials supplier Kennametal; high-tech materials cutting business Mission Critical Solutions; and the Fixed Base Operator at the Bedford County Airport, Bun Air.
He also met with the Development Association’s president and vice president.
Government helping business
Toomey said the government has ways that it can help these business and the private sector improve – including providing solid infrastructure – but that most often the government needs to stay out of the way.
“The most important thing for a government to do anywhere, including in a rural place like Bedford County, is to create an environment that is conducive to investment and growth…But if we have a federal government that chews up their resources, combined with excessive regulation, well, that’s money they don’t have to invest in growing their business.”
He said these leaders are faced with complex tax laws, over-regulation and burdens placed on them by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Labor Relations Board and the Environment Protection Agency.
Toomey said he personally can help businesses prosper by fighting over-regulation or inappropriate regulations. He said through a website called “Had Enough,” businesses – or anyone really, according to Toomey – can bring a regulation to his attention that they believe needs to be changed. And if he agrees, he promises to “go to bat” for them and fight it.
Toomey also said he has a full-time staffer dedicated to helping people apply for federal grants.
However, he said his commitment to cutting the deficit (and by extension, spending) means there will be less money to go around.
“Look, we probably have to have fewer government grants and…less government spending in many categories, including many grant programs. I don’t make any bones about that.” Toomey added that of the funds that are appropriated, he wants to give his constituents a fair shot at them.
Romney for President and Voter ID
Sen. Toomey also took the opportunity to again voice his support for Gov. Mitt Romney, who he said will win the state because Pennsylvania voters are sick of having a weak economy and little to no job growth because of massive government spending, deficits and regulations, which he said creates a chilling effect on businesses.
He also said tax increases during the Obama administration, and the threat of more, means voters “are not gonna want to double down on those failed policies.”
Toomey also addressed one of the most widely debated topics in PA politics this year: Voter ID.
He said what most Republican lawmakers at every level of government in the state have been saying: people need an ID for almost everything, and it is not unreasonable to require people prove who they are before they have their say in how government is run by electing those who run it.
He also emphasized that the ID is free, and that even if people don’t have an ID by Election Day they can cast a provisional ballot.
In a statement that separated him from another Republican who suggested that Voter ID could benefit the Republicans, Toomey doubted whether either party could benefit.
“I doubt that it actually has much impact on one party or the other. If you look at the actual law, rather than some efforts to mischaracterize it, it asks people to have an ID when you vote,” he said. “We require IDs for so many things in life…I think it’s pretty reasonable.”