Courier News: Lance weighs in on economy, debt crisis at Courier News editorial board
COURIER NEWS, August 24, 2011
SOMERVILLE — Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th District, on Tuesday called on federal lawmakers and President Barack Obama to restore “certainty” to taxpayers who continue to struggle under the weight of the stagnant economy.
Speaking at an editorial board meeting with New Jersey Press Media, the second-term congressman said that reducing the unemployment rate was among the biggest issues before him. At several recent town-hall meetings, Lance said, almost all of the questions from his constituents have been about the economy.
“In general they want to know, ‘What is Washington going to do to help create more jobs to help the middle class, the bedrock of our society?’ ” he said. “And my answer to that is that we need greater ‘certainty.’ That’s the one word I would use to encapsulate what I would do.”
To that end, Lance said, taxpayers need definitive answers as to whether the government will raise taxes, address the nation’s debt crisis and revisit the debate over health-care reform. Finding answers to those questions will allow federal officials to tackle unemployment levels that continue to hover around 9 percent, he said.
“I never thought I would be saying that a 6-percent unemployment rate was good, but I guess I’m saying a 6-percent unemployment rate is good,” Lance said. “At least it’s a heck of a lot better than a 9-percent unemployment rate.”
The Clinton Township resident said he would be willing to listen to proposals that Obama is expected to unveil around Labor Day. He would be open to plans such as offering tax credits for job creation and “repatriating” funds earned abroad by multinational corporations, he said.
Lance also recalled the Aug. 2 congressional vote that raised the country’s debt limit and helped stave off default by the federal government. He said that defaulting would have meant more than “merely nonpayment of interest obligations on debt,” citing other responsibilities such as Social Security and Medicare payments and funding everyday functions such as meat inspection by the Department of Agriculture.
“It was by no means perfect, however, I believe the (country) should pay its bills on time and I believe the markets would have been broiled even more than they were if they defaulted,” Lance said, referring to recent turmoil on Wall Street.
He reflected on the work of the so-called super committee in Congress, a 12-member group of lawmakers charged with developing a long-term plan to tackle the debt issue. By Thanksgiving, he said, the committee is expected to present its recommendations for a bill to members of Congress.
The lawmakers then are expected to then vote on the proposals by the day before Christmas Eve, he said.
When asked about foreign affairs, Lance said he is “generally supportive” of President Obama’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The congressman said he often brings up foreign affairs at his town-hall meetings to help keep his constituents informed.
Lance, a former state senator, also weighed in on the long-running speculation that Gov. Chris Christie will seek the Republican nomination for president in the 2012 election. Lance said he would like to see Christie run, although he did not believe that would happen.
“I do not expect Gov. Christie to enter the race,” Lance said. “If he were to enter the race, I would enthusiastically endorse him. I endorsed him in his primary for governor the day he announced.”